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House Speaker Frank Chopp blasts Senate Republicans for “abuse of power”

Washington State House Speaker Frank Chopp, who represents Seattl’s 43rd Legislative District along with Jamie Pedersen, has just issued a statement blasting Senate Republicans and their three collaborators (who call themselves Democrats) for hijacking the Legislature’s upper chamber and advancing their own backroom budget to the floor for immediate adoption. Here is what he has to say:

The Senate Republicans have exercised the worst abuse of power I have ever witnessed in the Legislature. It says something about them that the minute they gained power, they abused it.

They immediately moved to run over the minority on the floor by denying them the right to even see the budget bill before asking them to vote on it.

They immediately turned their backs on the rights of the people by dismissing all calls for public testimony. Yes, the party that regularly decries the lack of transparency in the legislature cut the public out of the process completely.

As for their budget proposal, from what little we’ve heard, it shreds the safety net, eliminates state food assistance, housing and medical care for the disabled, and continues the Republican war on women by eliminating family planning grants.

Governor Chris Gregoire has not issued a formal statement on the coup on the Senate, but in conversations with reporters she made it clear she, too, was disgusted. “I am chagrined that they’re over there right now working on something I’ve never seen, the members have never seen — members on both parties have never seen, and they’re going to take a vote tonight?” she told the press outside of Speaker Chopp’s office. “This is not how we do business in Washington State.”

In a few hours, assuming that Senators Jim Kastama, Rodney Tom, and Tim Sheldon continue to vote alongside their fellow conservative Republicans, the Senate will be on the verge of passing a destructive budget that destroys vital public services under the Orwellian cloak of sustainability.

But House Democrats, capably led by Speaker Chopp, are making it clear they consider the Senate Republicans’ proposal a nonstarter.

If that be the case, then there will be no agreement on any budget any time soon, let alone before the regular session is due to end next Thursday.