Virginia General Assembly: Democrats welcome historic shift as 2020 session convenes

Capitol Connection

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Democrats made history Wednesday when they unanimously elected Eileen Filler-Corn as new House Speaker on the first day of the 2020 General Assembly session.

Filler-Corn, a Democrat representing Fairfax County, is the first woman to hold the role of speaker in the body’s 401-year history.

“Today, we set out to accomplish the job you sent us here to do. And we anticipate these next 60 days will be busy and successful,” Filler-Corn said Wednesday.

This year’s session convenes with Democrats in control of the state legislature for the first time in over two decades and a historically diverse General Assembly. Filler-Corn addressed the “many firsts” this session has already fulfilled in her prepared remarks Wednesday.

“We will have the first women of color to lead committees, and have a historically diverse group of committee chairs and vice-chairs. And these leaders are Members of the most diverse House of Delegates in Virginia history,” the new speaker said. “This House is not only diverse in terms of race or gender. The Members of this House represent a wide range of experience, thought, orientation, religion and backgrounds. We are truly a body that represents all the people.” 

Lawmakers on the other side of the aisle said they appreciated Filler-Corn’s promise of collaboration during this year’s legislative session.

“I loved her final concluding remarks that we are going to do this together and ensure that we are a commonwealth,” Del. Lee Ware (R-Powhatan) said.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam and new leadership in the House of Delegates and state Senate outlined the legislative priorities that Virginia Democrats plan to get done during this year’s session.

As Democrats celebrated the shift in power and the history behind it, House Republicans criticized the incoming majority’s decision to recess Wednesday without adopting rules for this year’s session or providing its proposed rules.

“Over the last two decades, the House has established an on-time, bipartisan framework under which the House can operate for the two year period between House elections,” House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert said in a statement. “To date, House Republicans have received no indication about what the new majority’s Rules will include, and it is now evident that the House will be at least a day behind schedule for the 2020 General Assembly Session, wasting precious taxpayer dollars.”

This story is developing. Stay with 8News for updates.

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