Power-Sharing Deal Shakes Up Wash. Senate

Tuesday, 11 Dec 2012 12:58 PM

By Alec Weisman

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Republicans could end up in control of the Washington state Senate after two Democrats agreed Monday to join in a power-sharing coalition with Republicans in the chamber, a move top Democrats criticized as a “recipe for gridlock in Olympia.”
 
According to the Seattle Times, the deal with the Senate's 23 Republicans would give Democrats Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon the positions of majority leader and president pro tempore, respectively, in exchange for committee chairmanships split equally between Republicans and Democrats. The arrangement would give the odd coalition a one-vote majority in the 49-member Senate.
 
“The public out there is hungry for us to come together, to work together in a collaborative manner, and that's exactly what this coalition is trying to accomplish,”
Tom, a former Republican turned Democrat, said at a news conference.
 
Under the arrangement, Republican control would extend to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, where GOP members have already vowed not to consider new taxes.
 
The move by Tom and Sheldon enraged Democrats, who dominate the state and the executive branch.
 
“This is not a coalition, it's a takeover,” said Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, who would lose her post as head of the education committee.
 
Democratic State Party Chairman Dwight Pelz also fired off an angry response, saying the power-sharing plan is risky and represents a "recipe for gridlock in Olympia."

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