Paterson Reaches Out to Squabbling Senate, Orders Them Again to Convene (Updated)

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Photo: Everett Bogue; Photos: Getty Images, iStockphoto

After roughly ten minutes of squabbling between Democratic and Republican state senators, members of the GOP began accusing their opponents of "holding the bills hostage." This provoked a big laugh from the Democrats. Malcolm Smith, who still claims to be president pro tempore of the body, said that Governor Paterson did not send the bills that he wanted voted on early enough to be copied for everyone, so they were merely awaiting photocopies. After some more overtalking, Republican senator George Winner banged his gavel on the side of a desk and called the Democrats out of order. Democratic senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson shouted back: "The Senate is at ease. You're out of order!" Then (and we know this is getting harder to follow, but it is for us, too, and we're watching the whole thing) the Republicans gaveled out. The Democrats, wielding an even bigger gavel, banged it louder and tried to ignore the GOP, claiming they'd already called a recess. Now most of the Republicans are off the floor, and some Democrats are left, speaking with reporters. Turncoat Democrat Pedro Espada, who also claims that he is the president of the body, says he just spoke with Paterson. The governor, apparently, insists that all senators report to the floor to vote on the bills he sent over. Paterson indeed has the power to call everyone to session, but he cannot make them vote. As it looks now, some sort of further session circus will reconvene at 5 p.m.

Update 6:25 p.m.: There were no further sessions today, but this afternoon David Paterson called in a press conference for another special session on Wednesday at 3 p.m. He also issued a list of bills that he wants to see taken up at that session. Number one on the list is same-sex marriage. The Republicans are now hard at work trying to sway Democratic senator Ruben Diaz, a staunch foe of same-sex marriage, to flip to their side. About ten minutes ago, Diaz suddenly entered the office of Republican leader Dean Skelos. He emerged five minutes later, saying only that they had a good sandwich for him. Diaz hinted as recently as yesterday that if gay marriage comes up for a vote, he might be ready to bolt.

Earlier: Senate Republicans Enter Chamber, Proceed With Their Own Agenda
More Madness in Albany: Democrats Lock Themselves in State Senate Chamber [Updated]