Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Is it Soup Yet?

Both Capitol Confidential and Daily Politics are reporting about the deal that is cooking between the three amigos and Malcolm Smith. As CC tells us: "This, of course, comes with the disclaimer that nothing is really finalized until there’s a vote, but here’s what we’re hearing about the deal between Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith and the so-called “Gang of Three.” The “Gang” and Smith have come to a deal and now the Senate leader is reaching out to conference members individually to talk them through the finer points. The Senate Dems are expected to approve the deal tonight at their closed-door conference in Albany. An announcement is expected this evening to the public."

Who gets what is now the question, with CC saying the following about Kruger: "Sen. Carl Kruger is expected to become chair of the Finance Committee, but not the souped-up committee he was offered before by Smith. He won’t get the $6 million budget or separate staff, according to two Senate Democratic sources."

Liz, however, disagrees: "As predicted, many elements of the original deal have been preserved. But, things are very tenuous at the moment. Already there's some discrepancy over what, exactly Kruger has been promised. Senate Democratic sources tell CapConf that Kruger will indeed get to chair the Finance Committee, but it won't be the independent and extra-powerful body that was offered to him in the first go-round of negotiations. However, the source close to Kruger refutes that, insisting that the Finance Committee will indeed have a $6 million budget and staff."

The real wild card has been the role carved out for Pedro Espada-since his majority leader status caused the most contention. It now appears that Pedro may be an even bigger winner: "Espada will not become majority leader, as was proposed in the first incarnation of the deal. But he will get get to chair the Housing Committee, become vice chair of the powerful Rules Committee and also will head a task force on Urban Policy which will have a staff and a budget." Substance traded for symbolism, it seems to us.

The issue of same sex marriage is being dealt with sotto voce according to DP: "The same-sex marriage question, which Diaz has heretofore made a make-or-break requirement of his support of a leader, appears to be unanswered for the moment. The reality is that Smith simply doesn't have the votes necessary to bring pass it and so there's no reason for him to bring it to the floor. Once he has the votes, he might no longer need Diaz's support to retain his leadership post."

But all of this, of course, is contingent on Smith's ability to herd the Democratic cats, something that he appears better situated to do than he was a month ago: "Details of the deal between Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith and the Gang of Three are starting to leak out even though both sides having been trying to keep things quiet, fearing a repeat of the implosion that occurred in the wake of the last agreement almost a month ago. The Democratic conference has not yet codified this deal and is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. tonight. But there is so far none of the internal grumbling that led to the death of last month's power-sharing pact between Smith and the gang."

The deadline for all of this is six o'clock tonight; and, as Liz reminds us: "A source close to the Gang of Three ringleader, Sen. Carl Kruger, cautioned that this isn't yet a completely done deal, saying: "You'll know it's done when these three walk into the conference tonight."