In 2007 when the previous Virginia senate elections were held, the Democrats held a 4 seat majority in the 40-seat senatorial house of Virginia’s General Assembly. Tradition and rules in the VA senate say that committee assignments should reflect the basic makeup of the senate’s division in terms of how many seats are accorded to the majority party and how many the minority. With a 55% majority, that means that any committee with 20 members, the split would be 11 Democrats, 9 Republicans. In anything smaller than that, the difference should have been 1 seat.
Needless to say, it didn’t turn out like that. Many – if not most – of the committees were stacked with almost 2-to-1 majorities of Democrats. Well, fast forward 4 years to the opening of the General Assembly in 2012, after a 2011 election that saw the Republicans take 2 additional seats, bringing the split to an even 20 seats per party. The last time that happened, there was a Democrat in the Lt. Governor’s chair and, as the tiebreaking vote, the Democrats got to call the shots about how the Senate would be organized for the next 4 years. This time, it’s Bill Bolling – a Republican – that’s the tiebreaker.
So, guess who’s grumbling and complaining and all outraged that the GOP is 1) deciding how the Senate is to be organized and 2) taking solid majorities on the committees? Yes, the Democrats, and their friends at the Washington Post are making sure to give them the cover to be that way, in spite of the situation being just the flip side of what they’ve imposed in the past. Once again, Dems, you’re being held to the same standards you created. Enjoy it.
And let’s be sure to give the proper attention to the facts that the WaPo tries to bury at the bottom of the story:
Sen. Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment (R-James City) contended on the floor of the Senate that Republicans were, in fact, being more magnanimous with committee slots than Democrats had been when they took power in 2008.
Four years ago, Democrats gave themselves a total of 96 committee seats and gave the Republican minority 72. This year, Norment said, the GOP was giving itself 93 seats and giving Democrats 74.
Complain and spin it any way you like. The facts are you Dems in the Senate are better off than you gave the Republicans these past several years.