NEW YORK - The New York State Senate has voted to expel a senator for the first time in almost a century, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
It said the Senate voted 53 to 8 late Tuesday night to immediately remove Senator Hiram Monserrate, a Democrat from Queens, found guilty of misdemeanor assault in October for dragging his girlfriend down the hallway of his apartment building.
The Democrats held the Senate by just two votes and Monserrate's removal leaves the fragile balance of power in the Senate divided between 31 Democrats and 30 Republicans, the Times said.
Analysts had warned that Monserrate's expulsion could cause a deadlock that would make it much harder for New York to meet its March 31 budget deadline.
The paper said Monserrate's lawyers were drafting a temporary restraining order seeking to have him reinstated.
It quoted one of his lawyers, Norman Siegel, as saying the order would be filed Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan.
"The New York State Senate does not have the constitutional and legal authority to expel Senator Monserrate," Mr. Siegel said.
The paper reported that in a fiery speech to the Senate just before the vote, Monserrate said he had been made a scapegoat and accused his critics of exploiting an "ethical bully pulpit."
"The actions that I've committed," it quoted him as saying, "do not rise to the level of expulsion."
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