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A message for Senate Democrats

This comment on Waldo’s post captured by sentiments exactly:

VASenDemsWithout saying that what the Senate Republican caucus did with this vote was justified or invited, I must point out that the Democrats fail to learn from their mistakes. Virtually the same thing happened last year with SB924, which turned into the “regulate abortion clinics like hospitals” bill because the Senate Democrats were not paying attention to the content of the bill as introduced and its amenability to amendment. Senate Democrats adopted a seemingly innocuous Senate bill that regulated nursing homes; when it went to the House, Republicans added an amendment regulating abortion clinics; Senate bills returning from the House are not sent back to committee, where controversial bills dealing with abortion typically are killed. By competently using the parliamentary process (albeit perhaps in a Machiavellian fashion), Republicans slipped one past the Democrats. As they say, “fool me once shame on you….” But what happened with this redistricting bill was very similar: a seemingly innocuous House bill dealing with redistricting was reported from Senate committee and amended on the floor to be quite controversial; now it will return to the House, where it will easily pass as amended if it is the will of the Republican majority there, never returning to the Senate to give Democrats a chance to kill it. “….fool me twice, shame on me.” Senate Democrats’ parliamentary incompetence was even more egregious in this case because the underlying bill had been passed by for the day every day since session began. Passing a bill by several days ALMOST ALWAYS signals a floor amendment; usually the floor amendment will be innocuous as affected parties and interest groups try to work out a compromise between opposing sides. But requests to pass a bill by for multiple days should at a minimum raise a red flag to anyone paying attention to the likelihood that the bill is going to change on the floor.

About the only thing I can add to that is that Senate Democrats should have flagged this bill when it came out of committee back in November. Eight months after the bill had been sent back to the committee, it is revived and reported out? Hell, I can smell that from here.

There is one other thing, though. Senate Democrats have got to grow a pair and back up threats with action. When the first redistricting bill was vetoed by McDonnell, then-majority leader Dick Saslaw vowed not to change it. “We are not going to change one period or one comma,” he said at the time. Yeah, right. Democrats redistricted themselves right out of a majority.

So here they are, pinning their hopes on the House rejecting the changes or, failing that, the governor vetoing the bill. I don’t see either of those things happening. Nor do I see the Senate Democrats filing suit.

It’s 2011 all over again.

Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.

3 thoughts on “A message for Senate Democrats

  1. …Keep your head in the game; eyes on the ball. Sports analogies abound but they all say the same thing. Keep your opponent at arms reach and in sight at all times.

    Politics is the art of masterful deception; nothing else comes even close. This was a fabulous piece and I enjoyed reading it as a lesson in political theater but I hated to learn that the Dems are asking to be spanked yet again…

  2. Totally agree that they need to follow up on their threats, although I also have the impression that if I was in Saslaw’s shoes, you would probably write weekly columns criticizing my tactics. At this point I would tell everyone to go home so they couldn’t get a quorum to pass anything else with or without Bolling’s support until McDonnell vetoed the redistricting bill and the House sent me a clean copy of Creigh’s redistricting proposals for a floor vote.

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