If they let it go, the governor and speaker will infuriate Democrats, who also look skeptically on the transportation proposal because it reallocates money that could be spent on schools and other “core” government services to roads.
No matter which route they go, they must consider timing. Should they get it over with? Wait to see if public outcry dies down? Do it during the session, when the bill could be used as a bargaining chip on transportation? Or wait until afterward, when the governor would have more time to decide on a veto?
An analysis of the Republican proposal to redraw the Virginia state Senate districts.
Diluting Virginia's minority vote.
McDonnell, who has cultivated a national image as a results-
oriented pragmatist, is said to be leery of being tied to a partisan power grab, particularly one that has taken on a story line tinged with race.
Republicans were able to push their plan through the 20-20 Senate by taking it up on Monday when a Democrat was absent.
Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, who decades ago argued school desegregation cases and who was Richmond’s first black mayor, was attending President Obama’s inauguration in Washington.
Democrats and even a late-night comedian have seized that angle.
“They waited until a Democratic senator and longtime civil rights leader left town on Martin Luther King Day to attend President Obama’s inauguration,” comedian Stephen Colbert said as he named the Senate Republicans his “alpha dogs of the week.” “In the words of Dr. King, ‘I have been to the mountaintop, and while I was there, they heavily redistricted the promised land.’ ”
Virginia Republicans were similarly lampooned on national TV during last year’s session for a bill that, as originally proposed, would have required women to get a vaginal ultrasound before an abortion. The uproar was widely seen as torpedoing McDonnell’s chances of being picked as Mitt Romney’s running mate.
On Thursday afternoon, when Saslaw dashed to the House, he learned that Democrats there had decided not to force a vote on the matter — a vote that would have brought to a head the question of whether the Senate amendment violated legislative rules.
For the second day in a row, the House voted to pass over the bill for the day without any objection.
As he headed back to the Senate, Saslaw waved off questions about the House’s decision to put off action. “Bill Howell doesn’t need me to tell him how to do his own business,” Saslaw said.