House of Delegates Chamber
House of Delegates Chamber

The Washington Post reports that some folks are in a heap of trouble over last week’s Republican response following the State of the Union Address.  GOP House Speaker William Howell allowed Governor McDonnell to give the GOP response from the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates.  However, Rule 82 forbids the chamber to be used for anything other than House business unless a full vote appoves other use.  Speaker Howell did not get the approval of the full house.

According to the Washington Post:

Richard Cranwell, a House member for 30 years and now chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, said Howell (R-Stafford) should apologize to the people of Virginia.

“It didn’t sit right with me,” Cranwell said. “That chamber is for the conduct of the people’s business. What Bob McDonnell did there was not part of the people’s business.”

Rule 82 reads: “The Hall of the House of Delegates shall be used for no other purpose than the sessions of the House and for meetings of the committees and members of the legislature on public affairs except by vote of the House or the Rules Committee or with the approval of the Speaker when the House is not in session.”

Howell said he had the authority to allow McDonnell to use the chamber because the speech took place after 10 p.m. when the House had already adjourned for the day.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Howell said. “The guy’s the governor of the state.”

The governor was cheered on by family, friends, supporters and employees. Several Virginia lawmakers said they were concerned that it appeared the Delegate Assembly was cheering on the newly inaugurated governor.

This flap is  a little petty isn’t it? Who would have said no? This is just partisan bickering. Time to grow up. On the other hand, if the Rule 82 were in question, then McDonnell could have held the rebuttal in the Governor’s Mansion. The time to voice an objection was before the rebuttal, not after.

31 Thoughts to “The Sacred Virginia Chambers”

  1. Pat.Herve

    I think it is a big deal. And, I am not about partisan bickering. When you the reduce the VA House of Delegates down to a room used for any purpose, you loose respect for the chamber. What is next, a Pepsi Commercial?? One wonders who knew about it before hand, and why someone did not raise their hand and say – is this a good venue? What was the cost to the state for the late night security and facility usage – was the state reimbursed for this private affair? Were they not thinking?

  2. GainesvilleResident

    I don’t dispute what has been said above. HOWEVER, I still smell hypocrisy on the part of ex-Governor Kaine:

    Ex-Governor Kaine loudly complained about McDonnell doing the republican response! He said the Governor should concentrate full time on his governor duties.

    Let’s see – Kaine was a part time governor and part time Chairman of the DNC? Are we seeing a little hypocrisy there? McDonnell did this one night, Kaine did it for 2 years! I think THAT is hypocrisy.

  3. Some good points are being made. Who knew and why wasn’t a vote taken seems reasonable. It sounds like someone dropped the ball for sure. I just don’t see much point in creating a state-wide stir over it. That seems to be the direction the incident is moving.

  4. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    To say that what happened “was not part of the people’s business” assumes that the people of Virginia are not citizens of the United States. While in unacceptably high part, he’s right, this is the message people need to take from Cram-well’s comments. Any time the chairman of the VA Democratic party crowns himself supreme arbiter of what is “the business” of the people of VA, I’m all for it!! You go, Cram-well! You and the Washington Post (while it’s not out looking for subscribers), make this the biggest issue you can! In fact, you might consider endorsing Deeds again while you’re at it!

  5. A PW County Resident

    Merriam-Webster’s definition of “adjourn”–

    “to suspend indefinitely or until a later stated time”. The chamber was in adjournment, thus the they were out of session until the next scheduled time.

    Rule 82–
    except by vote of the House or the Rules Committee or with the approval of the Speaker when the House is not in session”

    Howell is Speaker and gave permission, House was not in session. Am I missing something?

    Wolfie, thanks for the comments about partisan bickering. I agree with you. There are sure much less important things to get riled up about like jobs, the economy and the state of the Commonwealth. We got to waste ink in the newspaper about a time-honored tradition of an opposition’s response to the State of the Union–not the content but the location.


  6. It was a rules violation. Make nice and move on. Isn’t there someone to referee and get everyone back on task? There’s 2,529 bills to wade through. Focus, please.

  7. Pat.Herve

    and where does that slippery slope end… will they host weddings? How about retirement parties? Does Howell have the say on how the House of Delegates is used – No, he does not. Imagine the outrage if Pelosi or Reid gave a rebuttal from the House or Senate floor…. I bet Beck/Hannity would have alot to say about that.

    Just plain someone not thinking – why do you think many political speeches are given from the steps of (insert Government building name)? Because, you are not to use public facilities for partisan reasons.

  8. anona

    FRom the article:

    “In recent years, other House speakers have allowed the House chamber to be used by speakers, including former vice president Al Gore in 1997.”

    It has obviously been done before and no one said anything about it then. Perhaps the idea of renting it out for weddings isn’t such a bad one. Maybe we could raise enough to give northern virginia schools back their fair share or to pay for roads.

  9. A PW County Resident

    Pat.Herve, I agree with you believe it or not about trivializing the government facilities of high honor. I don’t think prominent people of office whether it is Al Gore or the Governor fits into the idea of trivialization.

    However, I actually do think some things are worthy of getting the honor. Would I really object if they opened the chamber to honor a 50 year delegate on his/her retirement? I doubt I would since it is another way of honoring government service. Would I object if the there is a state wedding (I know there isn’t such a thing here in the US but I don’t know what to call it if say the Governor were getting married and asked to use the House chamber. Can’t imagine it happening by the way). Probably not since there is a deference given to our elected people. What if two delegates wanted to be married there since that is where they met? It is still the circumstances and not the result of the “slippery slope”.

    By the way, I hate it when the other side also does the same kind of bickering. I have little patience with the bickering is all. Let’s get down to real disagreements. Whether it is the republicans or democrats, this type of trash talk is unproductive and just another form of demonization.

    In any event, I didn’t want to leave the impression that it is okay when one side does it and not okay when the other one does. It is not okay when either does it.

  10. hello

    What a non-issue, like anona said, it’s been done before without issue and from reading rule 82 I don’t see any rules being broken since the speaker gave permission. This is yet another example of sour grapes/hypocrisy from Democrats, in this case Richard Cranwell the chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party.

    McDonnell won, get over it and get on with business…

  11. hello

    and about the Washington Post, does anyone actually get the post? I get it in DC to read at work (mostly just the sports section) but it’s turned into such a joke. It costs 75 cents now and the metro section is down to about 3 whole pages and the rest is obituaries. The sports is even worse… I think I’m going to stop wasting my money on it but for some reason I like to read a ‘paper’ in the morning.

  12. Hello, what do you notice about your comment that is different from everyone else’s? Look real hard. The rest of us aren’t punching each other in the face or back. We are rising above the fray. Why don’t you join us up here, above the fray?

    In general, It was a rules violation. Had it been voted on it would not have been a rules violation. Oooops. Life goes on. Everyone agrees that there are bills to wade through and time is short. It gives a few old timers something to posture about.

    Rez, I agree. I would evaluate it on a case by case situation, all the time remembering that no one really cares what I think. 😉

  13. Poor Richard

    Agree with Cindy – focus on the important matters.

    Like what the hell is going on in Dale City with those terrible killings
    and the Bulgarian mafia? (N&M website)

  14. A PW County Resident


    🙂 uh-oh–sounds like we are in a down period, Wolfie?

  15. GainesvilleResident

    Poor Richard :
    Agree with Cindy – focus on the important matters.
    Like what the hell is going on in Dale City with those terrible killings
    and the Bulgarian mafia? (N&M website)

    I saw that too. I didnt realize we had any mafia presence in PWC! I grew up in NJ and saw mafia headlines all the time. Now, there’s some relatives of the Bulgarian mafia leader here in PWC and were murdered? Crazy stuff!

  16. No, I just realize no one in the position of setting policy is going to call and ask my opinion. Once people come to grips with that, it is a lot easier to get along.

    Bulgarian Mafia situation. Not sure if that connection had anything to do with the woman and child’s death or not. I read where the killer was married to the dead woman’s ex husband. Not only are our crimes getting more urban, they are getting more international.

    I hope we aren’t going to have a problem with the Bulgarian mafia now. Geez.

  17. hello

    Which comment are you referring to Moon, the one about the ‘rules violation’ or the Post? 🙂

  18. hello

    I mentioned the sour grapes because the is the second time a leader of the Democrat party has tried to make a BIG deal out of nothing. What would you call it? Would they say the same thing about Deeds if he had won?

    Would Kaine complain about Deeds doing the Dem response to a SOTU? Would Richard Cranwell complain if Deeds has the response in the chamber? He has been there for 30 years, did he complain about the chambers use for an Al Gore speech?

    Sorry but I just call it like I see it, sour grapes\hypocrisy…

  19. hello

    Moon-howler :Hello, what do you notice about your comment that is different from everyone else’s? Look real hard. The rest of us aren’t punching each other in the face or back. We are rising above the fray. Why don’t you join us up here, above the fray?

    “Teabag Leader Exemplifies Hypocrisy at its Worst” – by Moon Howler

  20. Witness Too

    Hello, a lot of people confuse the new name with the old name. When the Tea Party first announced themselves, that was the term they used. What’s the big deal? It’s a silly mistake made first by the Tea Party people and often by ordinary people. Why do you have so much invested in this thing that you would hold a grudge for several days? Take a deep breath.

    As for the topic thread, lawmakers break the rules all the time. This doesn’t hurt anyone or cost the taxpayers anything, so I would focus on other things. As to whether or not it was good politics to hold the speech in the chamber, I couldn’t say. Did you see Stephen Colbert mocking McDonnell for wanting to dress up like the President? I have to say the whole thing looked really diminutive and wanna-be-ish. Even McDonnell looked diminutive. It just didn’t look good after seeing the real thing only moments before.

  21. hello

    My appologies… Ill just assume that this “As for the presidential jabs, they are just so …teabaggish” was really “As for the presidential jabs, they are just so …tea partyish” as well then.

  22. You may think what you want. Apparently teabag means a lot more to you than it does me. Do you need to talk about it?

    To me, a teabag is a small filtered bag holding tea leaves. I use them many times a day in many flavors. I am partial to zingers. In my world, I think ‘tea bag’ far more often than I think tea party. There is just nothing like 2 bags of red zinger in a big cup of hot water. Steeping forever.

  23. RingDangDoo


    So, if we labeled a group of folks “fudgepackers” that would be okay since the only possible meaning would be that they package fudge?

  24. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Moon-howler :
    To me, a teabag is a small filtered bag holding tea leaves. I use them many times a day in many flavors.

    To the JustinT’s and Barney Franks of the world, it’s soooo much more!!

  25. I like Cinnamon Apple Spice or Irish Breakfast tea.

    If you go on Facebook there’s a “Join the Coffee Party Movement” too.

  26. Ring, don’t try it. Not even a good analogy.

    Slow, you don’t know what they do or don’t do unless you are watching or participating. We aren’t going to start that.

    Not in the mood for smut tonight. There is a blog fairly close, with a nice dark screen, smut will be welcomed.

  27. Poor Richard

    The N&M website has a story on the PWC School Supt. proposing to
    cut 700 jobs. (Interesting enough, also a story on overcrowding
    in PWC schools) Now that is something to blog about.

    If I worked for or had children in PWC schools I would be filling
    Gov. McDonnell’s e-mail and phone lines pushing him NOT to
    freeze the LCI and to allow the regular adjustment to take place.
    That would mean over 22M extra for PWCPS.

  28. With a $79 million in cuts it sure would fill in some of the gaps. Thanks for keeping at the LCI mantra. It is needed.

    I thought I would wait to find out more info on the school budget. Its fairly scary.

    Historically, this will be one of the biggest crunches. ever.

  29. Poor Richard

    “Officials attributed a quarter of the school system’s projected $80
    million shortfall to a proposed freeze in the adjustment of a state
    funding formula that is intended to compensate school systems
    for enrollment growth and declining tax revenue. School Board
    members urged parents to contact their state elected officials.”
    Washington Post -Metro B-4 – (2-4-2010).

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