Virginia lawmakers return to work amid continuing calls for Gov. Northam to resign

RICHMOND, Va. - State lawmakers returned to work on Monday morning as calls for Gov. Northam to resign continue.

"I think this is a very, very tragic event," House Speaker Kirk Cox told reporters on Monday morning. "I have worked with the governor. We certainly have not agreed on everything, but I would say that this is just heartbreaking."

Virtually every lawmaker in the state has called on Northam to resign after a photo from the 1984 EVMS yearbook surfaced, showing a person in blackface and another in a KKK costume under his entry.

Northam initially admitted he was in the photo and apologized, but during a press conference on Saturday said he is not in the picture and he will not resign.

Cox indicated that he would not be trying to force Northam out of office and said he had not talked with Democrats about impeachment either, saying that requires a high bar.

"I think that's why we called for his resignation. We hope that's what the governor does. It would obviously be less pain for everyone."

Lawmakers have a busy week ahead of themselves. They will be considering the budget as well as hundreds of bills.

Northam's possible replacement, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, took his normal job of presiding over the Senate on Monday morning.

"The governor has to make decisions in the best interest of the Commonwealth of Virginia," Fairfax told reporters, but did not call for Northam to resign.

Fairfax hasn't spoken with Northam in several days, but says he'll be ready if he's called upon to be governor.

Related: Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax responds to report hinting at sexual assault allegation 

"There's a lot of uncertainty right now in our government, but we always have to be prepared to assume our roles and responsibilities that are given to us under the Virginia Constitution," he said.

For full coverage on Gov. Northam's yearbook photo controversy, click here.

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