Check out the following speech delivered on Friday by Sen. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake, Norfolk) – who has served in both the House of Delegates and the State Senate – in which he declares, “I love the House of Delegates,” and urges the Senate not to talk badly about the House of Delegates, and the House of Delegates not to talk badly about the Senate. The reason for this speech, clearly, is the tensions between the two bodies, which to some extent are not unusual, but in other ways have gotten a bit too heated (IMHO) in recent months.
My theory is that a lot of the current tensions are a result of the massive changes we’ve seen the past few years, with dozens of new members coming in during the 2017 and 2019 “blue wave” elections, and that it will simply take time, patience and effort to get to know each other better and to develop smooth working relationships. Of course, the tensions are also structural between the two bodies, including the fact that Senate Democrats hold only a narrow, 21-19 majority, while House Democrats hold a 55-45 majority; major differences in average age/length of tenure for most Senators compared to most Delegate; and also that Senate Democrats aren’t up for reelection until 2023, while House Democrats are on the ballot again *next year*. Anyway, the bottom line is that the public isn’t interested in infighting, but wants to see laws passed that make their lives better. So let’s all focus on that, as Sen. Spruill wisely advises.
- “Some members of this body sometimes say things about the other House…in order for us to get along, we’ve got to stop talking about each other’s house.”
- “When a person by the name of Lionell Spruill was in the House, he used to call the other body down the hall the House of Lords. That’s what we called them, because we thought they were crazy. And then all of a sudden…that crazy Spruill was in the House of Lords. And my first day in the Democratic caucus, I said oh my, why am I here, I hate this place…because they were different.”
- “What’s different about the House than this body? Well you gotta understand, in the House, there are 100 – so don’t talk about them, I love them. In the House they are younger. In the House, they think differently…”
- “We got to respect the House; the House has to respect this body…Every time a gentleman in this body speaks, I’m not going to call his name, I want to say shut up!…We are the senate, we’ve got to do better…It hurts me when we talk about the House members, because a lot of us were in the House…we have to respect them. At the same time, they have to respect us. If we’re going to get anything done, it will take both bodies.”
- “So I’m asking y’all please, don’t talk about my friends in the House; I’m going to ask them, please don’t talk about my friends in the Senate. Because I love the Senate now, because I understand that those crazy things that I did in the House, you can’t do that over here. I’m in the House of Lords now, I know how to do better.”
- “So with that, I’m asking y’all please, don’t talk about the House. And I told the House, don’t talk about the Senate. I love both bodies; I want to be able to get together and do what’s best for Virginia.”