Senate Democrats announce plans to force Skelos from leadership

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A demand for a vote on leadership led to a shouting match on the senate floor on Wednesday.

Senate democrats said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos needs to step down immediately. They said it’s not a coup, rather they’re pushing for a vote of no confidence. They said it will give the republicans the chance to select a new leader.

“This is not a power grab; this is not a coup attempt,” Democrat Deputy Leader Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “This is not anything other than doing what the senate republicans should have done earlier this week.”

Skelos is facing federal corruption charges. Authorities said he used his official position to make his son more than $200,000. With that case hanging over his head, senate democrats said Skelos can’t be an effective leader.

“The residents of New York deserve a functioning senate to address the many issues before the state legislature,” Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “It’s clear that this body cannot really move forward with Dean Skelos as leader.”

Once session started, the democrats moved on the vote of no confidence, but senate republicans blocked the move. They argued they needed 24 hours’ notice.

Republican members pressed on, and Sen. Ginarius had his microphone cut. Session continued and members next took up a resolution to honor the Shenendehowa and Scotia-Glenville High School basketball teams.

Sen. Ginarius continued to argue. The leadership tried to ignore it until finally, he and the rest of the senate democrats walked out. The resolution to honor the basketball teams then moved forward.

“I’m very sorry that this occurred,” Sen. Kathy Marchione told the teams. “I guess you can say that here in the chambers it’s as exciting as being on a basketball court.”

Skelos previously said he was no intention of stepping down from his leadership post and maintains his innocence. While the majority of his members have continued to support him, a few do not, including Senator George Amedore of Rotterdam.

Senate democrats said with their confidence and a few concerned republicans, they have enough votes for it to pass.

“For the ability of the conference to move forward and handle the next six weeks of legislation in a positive way, we need to have Senator Skelos step down,” Democratic Senator Neil Breslin said. “And this motion would be saying step down. It’s not a comment on innocence or guilty. It’s a comment on the seriousness of the charge.”

Skelos was not in chambers on Wednesday. His press person said he did not have to be, but in a statement, Skelos called the democrats hypocritical and dysfunctional.

The senate won’t be in session again until Monday.

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