DE House Republicans draw ‘line in the sand’

    The minority party in the Delaware House of Representatives, upset after being rebuffed by governor, vows to “bare knuckles” as legislative session in Dover enters its final weeks.

     Delaware House of Representatives Republican minority leader Richard Cathcart believes politics should not be a spectator sport. But he feels it has become just that at Legislative Hall in Dover for the 17 members of the House GOP caucus.

    “It seems like every time we turn around we get all these promises of cooperation and communication,” Cathcart (R-Middletown) said. “And then we’re forced to be placed in a position where we’re spectators and we don’t want to be spectators.”

    The issue came to a head Thursday when Democratic Gov. Jack Markell denied a request by House Republicans for more time to study the recycling  bill. The legislation was ultimately pulled from Thursday’s House agenda after all 17 House GOP members threatened to vote against the bill. Majority Democrats would need at least one Republican vote to pass the bill.

    Even though at least four House Republicans will likely vote for the recycling bill anyway, Cathcart says it was important that they send a message.

    “If we’re not getting consideration on minor issues what’s going to happen when we start talking about the budget, which are significant issues,” Cathcart said. “So if we’re going to be ignored on those issues then maybe we should draw a line in the sand and bare knuckles with them.”

    Cathcart still can’t believe that his “common courtesy” request of more time to look at the bill was denied. 

    “This was such a minor issue I believe that the governor chose to pick a fight,” he said. “I think what is happening is that the other side of the aisle as well as the governor has underestimated the cohesiveness in the Republican caucus.”

    Markell’s response was that it was simply time to move forward.

    “I think there has been plenty of time for people to review all of this,” he said Thursday.

    Like last year, when the House GOP successfully blocked some legislation, Cathcart sees another showdown coming in the final weeks of the legislative session.

    “If he (Markell) loses the spirit of cooperation from our caucus it’s going to be a long end of session for him as well as the other side of the aisle,” Cathcart said. “And I’m telling you, the attitude of my caucus right now is not very positive towards that end result in June.”

    The vote on the recycling bill, which would end Delaware’s bottle deposit program and establish a statewide universal recycling program, has been rescheduled for Tuesday.

    The legislative session is scheduled to come to an end June 30 when a balanced budget is due.

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