Senate Democrats today exercised an extreme power grab when they passed a committee resolution reducing Republican clout on a number of influential committees. The committee assignments were altered as a result of the changes in the membership of the Senate following the elections of Sen. Ken Stolle as Virginia Beach Sheriff and Sen. Ken Cuccinelli as Attorney General of Virginia.
The new committee assignments change the make up of the budget-writing Senate Finance Committee from 9 Democrats and 7 Republicans to 9 Democrats and 6 Republicans as the seat vacated by Sen. Stolle was left unfilled. On the Courts of Justice Committee that vets judges and handles matters related to criminal and civil law, the make up was changed from 8 Democrats and 7 Republicans to 10 Democrats and 5 Republicans. The seats vacated by Stolle and Cuccinelli were filled by Democrats Don McEachin and Chap Petersen. The Commerce and Labor Committee that addresses business and utility issues moved from 8 Democrats and 7 Republicans to 9 Democrats and 6 Republicans. The seat vacated by Sen. Stolle was filled by Democrat Creigh Deeds.
The Rules of the Senate require proportional representation so that the party controls the same percentage of seats on committees that they control in the chamber. Based on this committee resolution, Democrats control four more seats than they are allotted under the rules of the Senate.
A number of Republican Senators expressed their distaste with the actions of the majority while the resolution was being considered on the Senate floor. A video showing the highlights of these speeches by Senators Tommy Norment (James City), William Wampler (Bristol), and Mark Obenshain (Harrisonburg) is attached.