Virginia Democrats objected Friday to what they called a “Republican power grab” in the state Senate, saying that control of the chamber should be shared.
Following a caucus retreat in Fairfax, Democrats issued a statement opposing the GOP’s planned takeover of the Senate.
Elections this month left the upper chamber evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) intends to break tie votes of all sorts, including committee appointments and other procedural votes.
Not so fast, said Sen. Dick Saslaw, who was re-elected majority leader at the retreat.
“Virginians elected 20 Senators of each party and it’s only right the power in the Senate is divided equally,” Saslaw said in a statement. “The Republicans are wrong to try and grab power when half the state voted for Democrats. It’s a question of fairness. The Republicans are trying to overrule the will of the people and claim a majority they did not earn.”
Democrats contend Bolling is not entitled to vote on every matter that comes before them.
“The Constitution of the Virginia is very clear, the organization of the Senate is the prerogative of the elected members of the Senate and Lt. Governor Bolling is not a member of the Senate,”Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico), who was elected caucus chairman.
Bolling, relying on a legal opinion written by a University of Virginia law professor, has said he can vote on the budget, tax bills, general obligation bonds, amendments to the state constitution and the election of judges.
Also at the retreat, senators chose Linda “Toddy” Puller (Fairfax) as caucus vice chairwoman; Henry L. Marsh III (Richmond) as treasurer; Yvonne B. Miller (Norfolk) as secretary; and John Edwards (Roanoke) and Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) as majority whips.