Dems Use Majority to Push Through Changes in the Senate - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Dems Use Majority to Push Through Changes in the Senate

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Virginia Senate Virginia Senate

A five-hour fight Tuesday afternoon yielded big changes in the state Senate. Democrats made major adjustments to Senate rules and committee assignments Tuesday, but not without passionate protest from the other side of the aisle.

Democrats have now officially taken control of the 40-person Senate chamber. With the election of two Democrats in special elections this month, the Senate is again split 20-20, with the Democratic lieutenant governor casting a tie-breaking vote.

Democrats used that majority Monday to push through changes to Senate rules and committee assignments. Republicans called it an "unprecedented" mid-term power grab - but Democrats defended their move by saying they're giving the GOP a taste of its own medicine, after Republicans used their majority to shake up committee assignments in 2012.

“I get it. I get it. But don't give me some transparent argument to try to justify that's what you're doing out of pure political might. Just tell me, we're going to stuff it to you because we've got 21 votes,” said 3rd District Senator Tommy Norment (R).

“Hey, welcome to partisan politics everybody. It didn't have to be this way, but that's how it wound up. But boy, the last group of people who ought to be blamed for this are the 20 sitting over here,” said 35th District Senator Dick Saslaw (D).

In a statement, Republican leaders said "a shadow hangs over the Senate today,” but this might not be over just yet. Republicans suggest that when given the opportunity, they will pounce on the chance to change things again saying "the Senate is merely an absence away from reorganization."

Virginia Senate Republican Caucus Press Release

RICHMOND, VA, 28 JANUARY 2014: Senate Republican Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover), and Senate Republican Caucus Whip William M. Stanley, Jr. (R-Franklin) commented today on the adoption of Senate Resolution 26.

“Effective today, the Senate of Virginia has ceased to operate under rules consistent with the custom, usage, and tradition of the Senate,” Norment remarked. “There is a dark shadow hanging over the Senate today. It has not been the Senate of Virginia’s proudest day.

“Abandoning the body’s rich traditions, they have put forward operating procedures that are, by design, intended to be changed and altered depending on the circumstances, effectively managing by caprice. The Senate of Virginia is no longer a deliberative body and, with today’s actions, barely a legislative one.”

“As a member of the Senate, I am astounded that a Caucus with senior members could have orchestrated today’s debacle,” Stanley noted. “To think that these anti-democratic, anti-transparent procedures were generated by the same Caucus whose members were bemoaning the bi-partisan ethics reform package as inadequate adds a level of hypocrisy heretofore unseen in the Senate of Virginia.”

“In a day full of outrageous power grabs, the decision by Senate Democrats to transform the Rules Committee into a ‘super committee,’ and granting extraordinary powers to a single senator rates as most outrageous,” declared McDougle.

“Senate Republicans take solace in the knowledge that now, thanks to today’s rulings by the Lieutenant Governor Northam, the Senate is merely an absence away from reorganization. That may not amount to stability in the procedures of the Senate, but, unlike our Democrat colleagues, we know how to follow rules.”

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