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Democrats in the state Senate likely to serve as a check on the Youngkin administration's agenda


Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin will enter the Executive Mansion with a Republican House of Delegates. But, he'll also be facing a Democratically-controlled Senate.

A Republican bill to ban critical race theory from Virginia classrooms will have to face a Senate Education Committee with nine Democrats and six Republicans. And any effort to roll back environmental targets for reducing carbon emissions; well, that’ll have to face a Senate Commerce and Labor Committee with 12 Democrats and only three Republicans.

Former Republican Delegate David Ramadan, now at George Mason University’s Schar School, says most of the action next year will be in Senate committees.

"Any initiatives considered leaning right or right initiatives are going to be stopped in the Senate," Ramadan says. "And they're going to be stopped mostly in committees rather than on the full floor because the Senate caucus has more room to play in committees than they do on the Senate floor."

On the floor, Democrats have a one-vote majority. But all the committees are lopsided in favor of the Democrats. Nevertheless, that does not mean the Senate will be a graveyard for the Youngkin agenda says Christopher Newport University professor Quentin Kidd.

"Getting rid of the grocery tax, for example, will have some bipartisan support," explains Kidd. "And so I don't expect the Senate to be the chamber where everything goes to die. But I do expect Democrats to sort of exert their ability to serve as a check on the governor in the Senate."

Youngkin will be sworn into office in January, just as the next General Assembly session begins.

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.