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House Republicans Give Democrats Seat at Table

Tim Craig

Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), announced yesterday that the House will provide Republicans and Democrats proportional representation on each of the body's permanent committees for the 2008 legislative session.

He and other Republican leaders called on the new Democratic majoriy to adhere to the same principle in the Senate.

"House Republicans - both current and past - have been leaders in adhering to the key principles of representative democracy," Howell said.

The decision means that most standing committees, consisting of 22 members, will have 13 Republican delegates and 9 Democratic delegates.

"I have always felt that this is the appropriate way to carry out representative government," said H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem), the House majority leader.

Republican leaders said they were proud of how many members stepped forward to relinquish some of their committee assignments to ensure proportional seating, including Del. Harvey B. Morgan (R-Gloucester), one of the most senior member of the House Republican caucus who gave up chairing the Commerce and Labor Committee.

"Our caucus members have really stepped up to the plate by volunteering to assist wherever possible," said M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights), the House majority whip. "The sacrifices made by many reflect how strongly united we are as a team. Going into the 2008 General Assembly session, House Republicans are well-positioned to avoid needless power struggles, allowing us to focus on continuing our positive efforts to improve the quality of life in Virginia."

House Republicans challenged their Democrat counterparts in the Virginia Senate to follow their lead.

"It's a question of basic fairness,'' Howell said. "The people of Virginia elected a closely divided Senate. It would be wrong for that body's new leadership to ignore that verdict by assigning key seats on standing committees in a manner that disproportionately favors one party over the other."

Later, House Democratic Leader Ward Armstrong and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian Morran released a response: "We are pleased that the House Republicans honored the committment they made to ensure that House committees have fair party representation that accurately reflect the composition of the House of Delegates."

By Tim Craig  |  December 11, 2007; 11:38 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2007 , General Assembly 2008  
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