Republicans Walk Out of Maryland Senate During Debate - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Republicans Walk Out of Maryland Senate During Debate

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Maryland Legislative Hall (Photo: WBOC) Maryland Legislative Hall (Photo: WBOC)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- Republicans walked out of the Maryland Senate in protest on Thursday after unsuccessfully trying to delay a resolution enabling the attorney general to sue the federal government without the governor's permission.
    
Republicans took the rare step of walking off the floor after Democrats, who control the chamber, rejected their request to delay action for one day by a vote of 28-18. The resolution would clear the way for the state's Democratic attorney general to sue the federal government for policies with which it disagrees, including President Donald Trump's ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.
    
Sen. J.B. Jennings, the Senate minority leader, said he walked off the floor in frustration over the procedure. Other Republicans questioned why the state needed to rush. Nine of the Senate's 14 Republicans walked out.
    
"We have plenty of people to argue these issues and why this body needs to infuse itself with the nonsense out of Washington, the petty partisan politics that we have been saying for the last two and half years that we're above, that just really rubs me raw," said Sen. Robert Cassilly, a Harford County Republican who walked out of the chamber.
    
But most Democrats said there was no time to waste.
    
"When the house is on fire you don't sit down and talk about niceties," said Sen. Delores Kelley, D-Baltimore County. "You take the tools that you have."
    
Sen. Brian Feldman, D-Montgomery, said Trump's travel ban affects biotech companies in the state, because 52 percent of the people who work for them are foreign-born.
    
"This is impacting the economics of our state currently," Feldman said.
    
Under the Maryland Defense Act of 2017, the attorney general could sue the federal government to protect the health, public safety, civil liberties and economic security of Maryland residents, as well as the environment. It also would enable the attorney general to sue over federal immigration and travel restrictions.
    
Supporters have cited concerns about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act and worries about lax enforcement of regulations to protect the Chesapeake Bay.
    
The Senate gave the resolution preliminary approval. A vote is scheduled for Friday.
    
"Quite frankly, in my opinion, I would like to get rid of this thing as quickly as possible if only because it's going to be divisive," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert. "It's going to set the tone for the whole session. It's going to be very mean-spirited, and I just want to get the damn thing off the floor as quickly as possible."

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