Rep. Harris responds to Democrats’ complaints about Senate takeover
The Senate shake-up on Friday, in which the minority Republicans got three conservative Democrats to join them in approving the Republicans’ budget, has stirred up a lot of emotions in Olympia.
In a story I wrote for Sunday, I quoted Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, as saying it was the worst abuse of power he’s seen in his 10 years as a state lawmakers, and I quoted Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver, who said the Republicans had “taken lemonade and made lemons.” To initiate the takeover, Republicans used a rare procedural maneuver by going to the ninth order of business.
Several so-called “good little bills” from the House appeared to have died during the Republican takeover, which started a few hours before a crucial bill cutoff date and lasted into the early Saturday morning.
But Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, criticized the Southwest Washington Democrats on Monday, when he called me to vent. Harris said he is accustomed to having his bills killed by the majority Democrats.
“This happens to me every day up here,” Harris said, adding that Moeller and Probst have “never been in the minority ever.”
Harris said what happened on Friday was not, as Moeller said, an abuse of power. Republicans were able to get bipartisan support from three “courageous” Democrats, and “I can’t fathom the heat they’re taking,” Harris added.
The supplemental operating budget written by Republicans passed in the Senate with a 25-24 vote. It makes cuts to K-12 and higher education, ends the Disability Lifeline program and cuts other social services.
The Senate Democrats’ plan wouldn’t have cut education but it would delay many of the state’s payments until the next budget cycle — a move Republicans say will only create another budget crisis in the next biennium.
The Republican budget has virtually no hope of surviving in its current form. It must now go through the House, which has a Democratic majority.