After weeks in which control of the New York state Senate was uncertain, the group of breakaway Democratic senators has struck a deal with Republicans to share control, the groups announced Tuesday.
The agreement means that the Independent Democratic Caucus will have formal recognition as a permanent third conference in the state Senate. Dean Skelos, the GOP Conference leader, and Sen. Jeffrey Klein, the IDC leader, will share "joint and equal authority." The title temporary president will alternate between the two men every two weeks.
"The Senate Republican Conference has worked closely with the Independent Democratic Conference and Governor Cuomo to bring historic progress to New York," said Skelos in a statement. "Senator Klein has proven to be a thoughtful and effective leader, and I look forward to partnering with him to move this state forward."
"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," said Klein. "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."
The statement notes that of "tremendous importance is the bipartisan coalition government's commitment to working with Governor Cuomo on progressive policy issues that benefit all New Yorkers in the next legislative session." The IDC members hope the power-sharing agreement will result in allowing more bills to come to the floor on issues like raising the minimum wage and campaign finance reform.
Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith also announced Tuesday that he joined the IDC, becoming its 5th member.
Two New York state Senate races are still unresolved, but given the deal the IDC struck with the GOP, Democrats no longer have a chance at controlling the chamber.