Drama In The Virginia Senate As Democrats Toss Old Rules On Committees | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Drama In The Virginia Senate As Democrats Toss Old Rules On Committees

Play associated audio
State Senators John Watkins, R-Powhatan, top left, Stephen Martin, R-Chesterfield, top center, and Frank Ruff, R-Mecklenburg, watch the vote on the new president pro tem during the Senate session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Most of the Republican Senators left their seats for the vote.
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
State Senators John Watkins, R-Powhatan, top left, Stephen Martin, R-Chesterfield, top center, and Frank Ruff, R-Mecklenburg, watch the vote on the new president pro tem during the Senate session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Most of the Republican Senators left their seats for the vote.

Democrats are seeking to reshape the power structure of the Virginia Senate after winning two special elections that gave their party narrow control of the upper chamber.

Minutes after the Virginia Senate's newest member —Lynwood Lewis — was sworn in as the 20th Democrat in an evenly divided chamber, Senate Democrats moved swiftly to take control of the chamber.

Democratic Senator Donald McEachin suggested that the existing rules were out of order.

"The courts have repeatedly suggested that past iterations of a legislature have no power to dictate the rules of their successors," McEachin said.

With that, Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam said the old rules were no longer in effect. Republican Senator Tommy Norment made a parliamentary inquiry.

"Am I correct in understanding that as the president of the Senate that you are ruling that the rules which were adopted by this body in January of 2012 are in effect not in effect, null and void?" Norment said.

Northam replied in the affirmative.

Norment said it was a misguided ruling, adding that the lieutenant governor was creating a sense of anarchy in the state Senate. Democrats say they're in control now, arguing that they should have control over the committees instead of Republicans. Those committees typically control which legislation makes it to the Senate floor.

In a statement, the Virginia Republican Party minced no words in criticizing Democrats.

"Today's display of abject lawlessness on the part of Sens. Don McEachin and Dick Saslaw was revolting. Not one of these Senate Democrats should be able to speak of the 'Virginia Way' ever again with a straight face or a clear conscience," said party Chairman Pat Mullins.

He also called Democrats "petulant children."

In 2011, there was a similar fight over control of a split Senate. That year Democrats unsuccessfully sued to try and prevent Northam's Republican predecessor from casting deciding votes on committee assignments in the Senate.

NPR

'F' Is For Fraudster In A Family Novel For Our Modern Times

Daniel Kehlmann's F, about three brothers abandoned by their father, examines the detail of lives lived without integrity. It is brilliantly translated from the German by Carol Brown Janeway.
NPR

No. 1 Most Expensive Coffee Comes From Elephant's No. 2

A coffee entrepreneur claims his brew is different — and better — than the trendy civet poop coffee. And it starts with the idea that elephants, unlike humans or civets, are herbivores.
WAMU 88.5

Maureen McDonnell Didn't Give Special Treatment To Star Scientific, Witness Testifies

A defense witness in the corruption trail against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, says the former first lady often traveled the state promoting state businesses, countering the notion she gave special treatment to the company at the heart of the corruption trial.
NPR

The Momentum Of The Ice Bucket Challenge — And What It Means For ALS

A recent fundraising challenge has gone viral on social media, calling attention to research into Lou Gehrig's disease. Forbes contributor Dan Diamond discusses the state of that research.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.