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Virginia House and Senate at Odds Over Special Session's Next Steps

House Democrats and Senate Democrats are at an impasse, and leaders in both chambers are trying to figure out what to do next in the special session.

One of the problems with playing a game before you’ve decided on rules is that you get to the end of the game and nobody knows who’s won. That’s where lawmakers are without a procedural resolution. 

House Democrats want to ban police use of chokeholds, but Senate Democrats want to allow them in certain circumstances. House Democrats want to mandate civilian review boards for law enforcement; Senate Democrats want to give jurisdictions the option to create them.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw says he’s not sure what’s happening with Senate bills that have been sent over to the House. 

“And if they haven’t met on any of our bills, there’s no federal law requiring us to get theirs back to them, OK?” he asks.

Delegate Marcus Simon says both sides have the ability to hold each other’s bills hostage, but he says that would lead to mutually-assured destruction. 

“We’re not going to do that," Simon explains. "We’re going to talk to each other. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s not apocalyptic. We’re not having as hard a time communicating as some would lead you to believe.”

House and Senate committees have started looking at each other’s bills, but nobody knows when they’ll make it to the floor or what happens after that.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.