The announcement came the same day as Sen. Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, a former Senate majority leader under Democratic rule, announced he was joining the IDC, which features Sens. Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky and David Carlucci.
Under the deal brokered, Sen. Dean Skelos would remain head of the Senate Republican conference, while Klein would continue to be in charge of the independent Democrats. The Senate presidency — a key constitutional post unlike the majority leader job — would rotate between Klein and Skelos every two weeks.
The move will not only bolster the IDC as a “permanent” third conference in the chamber, but also allow Republicans to retain some power regardless of the outcome of two undecided Senate races in the 46th and 41st districts.
A sixth Democrat, Sen.-elect Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, plans to conference with the GOP.
Republicans today celebrated the decision to move forward in a coalition as another step toward ending Albany dysfunction.
“The Senate Republican Conference has worked closely with the Independent Democratic Conference and Governor Cuomo to bring historic progress to New York,” Skelos said. “We’ve brought spending under control, ended Albany dysfunction, and consistently delivered the bipartisan results New Yorkers need and deserve — even on many of the most difficult issues. Senator Klein has proven to be a thoughtful and effective leader, and I look forward to partnering with him to move this state forward.”
Klein, a one-time deputy majority leader in the Democratic conference, is now in a position of serious power in the chamber. To mollify the concerns of liberal and progressive voters, he’s said that the coalition could help usher through agenda pieces such as a minimum wage increase and campaign finance reform.
Yet, it remains to be seen how this new coalition will exert negotiating authority during the budget talks with the governor and Democratic-led Assembly and whether “three men in a room” will become four.
“Over the past two years, members of the IDC and Senate Republicans have shown that the best way to overcome New York’s biggest challenges is by working in a constructive, bipartisan way. Legislating is a deliberative, cooperative process—not a spectator sport. Having dedicated the past two years to a serious, policy-driven agenda, this agreement delivers on the IDC’s pledge to become a permanent third conference within the State Senate and to have a major voice in all policy decisions moving forward. Having worked together over the past two years, I know that Senator Skelos is not only an effective leader, but is as committed as I am to delivering major bipartisan results for all New Yorkers.”