The GOP-led majority in the Senate held a preemptive news conference Thursday to blame Democrats for potentially dragging the Legislature into special session – four days before the regular session is set to end.
“We are calling on the House of Representatives to do their job,” said Senate Deputy Republican Leader Don Benton, of Vancouver. “The Senate has done its work.”
Benton and other members of the GOP-controlled majority caucus said they’ve passed all the bills needed to wrap up the state operating budget and blamed House Democrats for not moving on them.
Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray, who held his on news conference afterward to respond, said Republicans have been out of power so long they’ve forgotten how to govern.
“You are not governing if you say here is my budget, we’re done,” Murray said, noting it’s the majority’s job not only to pass a budget in the Senate but also to compromise with the Democratically controlled House to pass a budget there.
Republicans took control of the state Senate, for the first time in eight years, on the first day of the session when Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom, of Medina, and Tim Sheldon, of Potlatch, crossed party lines to caucus with the GOP.
Legislative leaders have not officially said there will be a special session, but have strongly indicated it’s likely.
Sheldon and Benton on Thursday also said that if Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee decided to wait a few weeks before calling a special session, it would be for political reasons.
“I’ve got to say that frankly I smell a rat. I think it’s politics … There are individuals running for offices,” he said, referring specifically to Murray, who is running for mayor of Seattle and cannot raise money for his campaign while the Legislature is in session.
Murray said he’s not worried about going into a special session and that his campaign would do fine regardless.
David Postman, a spokesman for Inslee, said the remarks were out of line.
“To claim outright there is some ulterior political motive on the part of others demeans them. That’s not what this is about and they should not be talking like that,” he said. “They said it about the governor and said it about other people and they know that’s out of line.”