Ask the Governor July 26, 2017
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Ask the Governor July 26, 2017

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe joined WTOP for "Ask the Governor."

McAuliffe dismayed by Trump reversing policy for transgender servicemembers 
By Amanda Iacone, WTOP.com

WASHINGTON Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said that transgender Americans should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military and questioned the logic behind the Trump administration's announcement barring them from serving. 

"Just more sad news out of the Trump administration, trying to divide the country, trying to play to a right-wing conservative base," McAuliffe said during WTOP's "Ask the Governor" program on Tuesday. 

Since taking office, McAuliffe, a Democrat who supported President Donald Trump's opponent Hillary Clinton, has worked to make Virginia open and welcoming to the LGBT community, arguing that it's good for business, and he's vetoed legislation that would have carved out religious protections for organizations that don't believe in same sex marriage. 

"These people want to serve in our military, let them serve," McAuliffe said. 

McAuliffe calls out Trump on health care

McAuliffe spoke with Trump about the ongoing health care debate when they were both in Norfolk Saturday to commission the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. 

The governor said he reminded the president of his campaign promises to provide affordable health care to all. 

"This is what you said go do it," McAuliffe recounted. "It's become politics over good policy."

McAuliffe said none of the bills under consideration in the Senate are good options because under all of them millions of Americans who currently have coverage would lose it and premiums would go up. 

"I say that health care is a right, it is not a privilege. Everybody should have coverage," he said. 

McAuliffe's dream: express lanes to Richmond

McAuliffe said he hopes to one day see express lanes running along Interstate 95 all the way to Richmond and into Maryland along the Capital Beltway. 

Currently the 95 Express Lanes run from Garrisonville to Arlington County, but plans are in the works to extend the lanes north to the D.C. line and further south to U.S. 17 in Stafford County. 

"If I had my dream, we’d go all the way from Richmond up to Northern Virginia with express lanes. If I had my dream, the Beltway, 495 …. what a great opportunity to do it all the way around our Beltway," he said. "Then people have choices."

Maryland has HOV lanes, but not the tolled express lanes that Virginia has allowed private companies to build along interstates across the state. Some commuters complain that the prices to take the lanes are too high, but McAuliffe and others have argued that they add much-needed capacity and help ease congestion. 

Tolls are also coming to Interstate 66 east of the Beltway. McAuliffe said testing of the toll gantries and related equipment is underway and the project is on schedule. 

Single drivers who travel the interstate during the rush hour will pay a toll beginning in December; the trip will be free for commuters who meet the HOV restrictions. A separate project will build express lanes from the Beltway to Prince William County. 
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