Censure Vote Delayed Again After Chase Asks for Time

RICHMOND - State senator Amanda Chase addresses protesters in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Eze Amos/Getty Images)

By Brian Carlton

January 27, 2021

Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase tries multiple tactics to delay the vote, before finally getting it pushed back.

RICHMOND-The censure challenges kept coming on Tuesday. When SR 91 was brought up, State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) objected to the fact it was a substitute resolution. Then she asked for a recess. Then she asked that the bill “go by for the day.” And then, she brought up a family matter, saying she had to go. 

In the end, Chase got what she wanted. The Virginia Senate agreed to postpone the censure vote until Wednesday. A censure is basically a formal statement of disapproval. After Chase labeled those who attacked the US Capitol Jan. 6 as patriots, her fellow state Sen. John Bell (D-Loudon) filed a censure resolution. A censure carries no penalties. No one is removed from office. It’s a document saying at least a majority of the group disagree with your actions. 

The alternative is expelling. To do that, you need a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate. Unsure if enough lawmakers would support that, Bell went with the censure. 

The retired Air Force officer said he needed to protect the Senate and saw it as a simple case of right and wrong. However, he first offered Chase an alternative. Last Friday, when the resolution first came for a vote, Bell asked that it go by. If Chase apologized for her actions, Bell agreed to withdraw the resolution. That didn’t exactly happen. 

She was asked to denounce white supremacists. She was also asked to denounce “those people who stormed the Capitol, who breached the lines, entered the Capitol and caused harm and death.” She condemned the violence Jan. 6, but stopped short of the rest. As a result, Bell brought the resolution back Tuesday. 

“I gave her an opportunity to apologize on this floor,” Bell said. “What she did, in my opinion, fell far short.” 

Censure Resolution Amended

Bell did, however, change the document before Tuesday’s hearing. The original censured Chase “for fomenting insurrection against the United States”, as well as failure to uphold her oath of office and conduct unbecoming a senator. Bell said some of his colleagues convinced him to remove the insurrection line, to protect Chase’s right to free speech. 

“Even though freedom of speech is not absolute, you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a theater, I’ve narrowed the resolution,” Bell said. “The floor substitute narrows and simplifies the resolution that was reported.” 

The amended resolution expands the complaint. Rather than focusing only on what Chase said Jan. 6, it details a series of “incendiary events” dating back to 2019. That starts with a documented March 22, 2019 incident where Chase criticized a Capitol Police officer for not giving her access to a restricted parking area in front of the Virginia Capitol building. 

“The report of the incident indicates that Senator Chase addressed the officer profanely and made offensive remarks regarding the Clerk of the Senate,” Bell’s resolution says. 

Also, the resolution points out Chase posted on social media that victims of sexual assault were to blame for not fighting off their attackers. At the time, the resolution states she wrote “it’s those who are naive and unprepared that end [up] raped.” 

Beyond that, Chase told her social media followers after the 2020 presidential election that “we are at war. The Democratic Party hijacked our 2020 Presidential Election and [has] committed treason.” 

The final issue stems from the attack on the US Capitol Jan. 6. In Facebook posts and videos, Chase called the people involved “patriots who love their country.” 

“When given the opportunity to specifically denounce and repudiate those individuals at the January 6 riot….Senator Chase declined to do so,” the resolution said. 

RELATED: Chase Still Faces Possible Censure After Friday Speech

Chase Tries to Delay the Vote

Once the resolution was presented Tuesday, Chase tried multiple times to postpone the vote. First, she argued the amendments “were not germane,” meaning they were not relevant to the original reason for the resolution. She then asked for a recess, while she read through the amendments. After the Senate returned from recess, Senate President and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax rejected her claim, ruling the amendment was germane and could move forward. She then argued the resolution violated her right to free speech. 

“I think we are desperately searching for straws here,” Chase told the Senate. “I would argue this is all free speech. As a state senator, I do not lose my rights to free speech.” 

When it was clear the vote would move forward, she then asked for the resolution to go by for the day. 

Both Bell and Sen. Tommy Norment (R-James City County) objected to this. Bell pointed out that Chase didn’t show up to the Elections Committee to testify. If she wanted to present her case, Bell said, that was the time. Norment agreed. 

“The senior senator from Chesapeake did not afford herself the opportunity of appearing before the privileges and elections committee when this matter was discussed,” Norment said. “She can make the same spurious arguments, regardless of when we take this matter up.” 

After Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) argued they should give Chase the courtesy of delaying the vote again, Norment pointed out that as this was an emergency resolution, the regular policy was to vote after it had been introduced. 

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One Final Issue

At that point, Chase started crying, saying she had to go check on her mother-in-law. 

“While I respect what has been said on the floor, on a personal level, my mother-in-law had open heart surgery today,” Chase said. “I need to go check on [her] and I will not be preparing statements for this tonight.” 

After Chase’s statement, Bell withdrew his objection. Norment did as well, but made a point of saying it was out of respect for Bell, “not attributable to tears.” 

Chase’s demeanor changed later in the day. Once on social media after the session, she declared all senators needed to be censured. 

“Time to censure the entire Virginia Senate, one Senator at a time,” Chase wrote on Twitter. “If we truly support equality, then we need to apply the same standards to all senators who have acted unbecoming as a senator.” 

She then proceeded throughout the night to tweet news articles that were critical of Norment. 

Typically, if a resolution “passes by for the day,” then it’s brought up at the next session. That starts Wednesday at noon.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].

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