WASHINGTON — After years of Republican obstruction, the Virginia General Assembly will start its session under full Democratic control for the first time since 1995 tomorrow. The historically diverse legislature is poised to finally pass legislation that will make Virginia safer, stronger and more prosperous for all.
Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn will be sworn in as the House's first woman and first Jewish speaker in the legislature’s 400-year history. Senator Dick Saslaw will return as Senate Majority Leader. Both chambers’ Democratic leadership teams will reflect the commonwealth’s diversity — in stark contrast to the outgoing Republican leadership teams composed exclusively of white men.
Delegate Charniele Herring will serve as the first woman and first African American House majority leader, Senator Mamie Locke was reelected as caucus chair, and Senator Louise Lucas will become the first woman and first African American president pro tempore.
“This week marks the beginning of a new chapter for Virginia. For years, Republicans have stood in the way of progress in the commonwealth. Democrats will use this session to pass commonsense gun safety, the Equal Rights Amendment and protections for LGBTQ Virginians,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post. “None of this would be possible if the General Assembly remained under Republican control. I’m incredibly proud of our candidates, the DLCC and all of our partners for flipping these chambers.”
The DLCC made an unprecedented early $1 million investment in flipping the General Assembly, driving additional resources to the commonwealth and coordinating with partners to build the largest legislative field program in Virginia history. Democrats flipped six seats in the House and two in the Senate — and with a blue governor’s mansion, they will have trifecta control of Virginia’s government for the first time since 1993.
The new session will also be a watershed moment for diversity in the capitol. Women now hold 41 of the 140 seats in the legislature, an unprecedented level of representation. One of Democrats’ top priorities is passing the Equal Rights Amendment, a move that would make Virginia the 38th state to ratify the amendment.
Ratifying the ERA is just one of many significantly popular proposals that will finally get a fair hearing in the legislature after being blocked by out-of-touch, extremist Republicans. Large majorities of Virginians support passing commonsense gun safety legislation and nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community, and Democrats are ready to deliver on these campaign promises.
“Virginia's General Assembly will send a national message this year. They’ll show Democrats across the country that progress is possible, even with Trump in the White House,” Post said. “As we prepare to flip another dozen chambers this November — Virginia’s progress will remind us why every chamber in every state is important. Their progress will help fuel our fight.”