The Senate has voted to enact new rules that give the institution’s majority to a coalition or alliance of 23 Republicans and two crossover Democrats. Democrats getting shut out of power described the new power structure – which includes three “minority” Democrats chairing or co-chairing committees – as a “coup” or “show-trial”
Before the vote on Senate Resolution 8601 – which was 25-to-23 – Senate Democrats offered up a rival resolution to share power equally with Republicans, including co-chairs and equal numbers of members for all of the chamber’s committees.
Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, said the minority of 24 Democrats were offering “true” bipartisanship – in contrast to the Republican majority coalition’s proposal for a 13 to 9 advantage on Rules Committee. He said that GOP offer wasan “unprecedented” tilting to one side.
The Democrats’ proposed rule change failed on a 25-to-23 roll call vote.
The 25 votes on both resolutions included Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom of Medina, Democratic Sen. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch and 23 Republicans – all of whom formed an alliance after the November elections to take over control of the 49-member Senate.
In a separate vote Sheldon was just elected speaker pro tem, which makes him the presiding officer in the Senate when Lt. Gov. Brad Owen is not available. The vote was 38 to 10.
Tom, who is going to be appointed majority leader by his coalition in a few minutes, said the coalition tried to create a new structure of bipartisanship that would give Democrats chairs for six committees, Republicans chairs for six and co-chair roles for both parties on three others.
Tom said the committee selections were made based on a careful consideration of the committee business – whether the subject contact was amendable to a bipartisan consideration and also whether the personalities of the leaders
Republican Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee said the coalition’s new structure should be a “cause for celebration.’’