Republicans Leave as Dems Do Ordinary Senate Session; Medical Absence Leaves Them One Vote Short of Quorum

ALBANY—The same two-part dance played out on the chamber floor just now as in recent days: two parties, two procedures. After that happened, Republicans walked out of the chamber and into an immediate conference.

But this time, double-flipping senator Pedro Espada Jr. remained alongside 30 other Democrats. (State Senator George Onorato has not yet checked in. Angelo Aponte, the Senate secretary, said he is absent to have an adjustment to his pacemaker.)

“Despite some of the new news that’s out there, we do not move away from the vote that was taken on June 8,” State Senator Dean Skelos insisted in a rearguard speech on the floor.

As Republicans left, Democrats gaveled into an ordinary session, but stood at ease without calling a quorum. Without Onorato, they do not have the 32 requisite votes to conduct business.

Senator Malcolm Smith walked out of the chamber without taking questions, followed by most of the other Democrats. They’ve called a press conference for 4 p.m. for a “major announcement.”

Leaving, I asked Senator Eric Schneiderman under what rules the chamber would operate; the rules adopted in January or the rules adopted June 8.

“The rules of the chamber, as far as I’m concerned, are still the rules that were voted in in the last uncontested vote on rules in January, until we make modifications,” he said. Then he added this, unprompted: “It is my great regret, it appears that it may now be unlikely that I get to argue in the Court of Appeals about the transparent invalidity of the attempt to change the rules on June 8. Which I would have won. I wish you were all there.”

Republicans Leave as Dems Do Ordinary Senate Session; Medical Absence Leaves Them One Vote Short of Quorum