Why Is Tomorrow Night Different From All Other Nights? (Updated)
seven eight Jewish members have very different approaches when it comes to tomorrow night’s session, which falls on the second night of Passover.
Sen. Simcha Felder, an Orthodox Jew, will not be casting votes on the bulk of his first ever budget (he’s a freshman Democrat from Brooklyn who’s conferencing with the Republican-IDC coalition) because he will be observing the entire holiday at home in his district.
Felder didn’t seem terribly put out about the situation, telling me during a brief telephone interview en route downstate from Albany that he more or less expected things to work out this way, given the earliness and proximity of Easter and Passover this year.
“I think they made lemonade out of a lemon,” the senator said of the Senate leadership. “It’s not a great situation, but they did the best they could.”
Felder voted “yes” on all three of the budget bills passed yesterday (which, as you’ll recall, was Palm Sunday). He said he’s still looking over the remainder of the bills, which went into print around midnight last night, but so far feels “very good” about what he has seen and would likely have voted “yes” on the whole plan.
I also caught Sen. Lee Zeldin, a Long Island Republican, en route home this afternoon. He was on the train, heading to see his wife, who’s Mormon, and young daughters.
“I look forward to finishing this budget up and spending some quality time with my family,” Zeldin told me. “Logistically, I’m having trouble figuring out how to be in two places at the same time.”
Tomorrow’s Senate session is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. and go as late as necessary until all the remaining budget bills are passed. That gives senators like Zeldin a chance to return to Albany in time to vote. But if they choose to do so, they won’t be able to observe the second night of Passover.
Zeldin said he’s likely to be back in town for session. He’ll be joined by IDC leader Jeff Klein and also by his fellow Republican, Sen. Michael Ranzenhoefer, a Western New Yorker, who told me he doesn’t observe either night of Passover now that his kids are grown and out of the house.
Three members of the Democratic conference are Jewish – Sens. Daniel Squadron, of Brooklyn; Toby Stavisky, of Queens; and Brad Hoylman, of Manhattan.
Stavisky’s Albany office told me she was heading down state tonight, but I have yet to be able to reach her to find out when – and if – she plans to return. I left a message for Squadron, and spoke with a staffer in Hoylman’s office, who said he would relay my question to the senator and have him get back to me.
This post will be updated as needed.
UPDATE1: Sen. Ruben Sr. is definitely not a Jew. In fact, he’s a Pentecostal minister. But he won’t be on hand for the budget votes tomorrow because, as CapCon’s Casey Seiler notes, he’ll be participating in a protest outside the US Supreme Court as justices inside her oral arguments on the first of two same-sex marriage cases. (I reported the senator’s trip earlier this month).
UPDATE2: Hoylman called me back from the train en route to NYC. He said he’s going to be having a Seder tonight with a friend in Brooklyn while his husband and daughter are in Washington, D.C. with family, as planned.
“With the return on Tuesday, it wasn’t feasible for me to fly down there and fly back,” Hoylman said. “It’s unfortunate I won’t be with them, but such is the state Senate.”
UPDATE3: Also, I overlooked another Jewish member: Sen. Liz Krueger. So sorry.
UPDATE4: A staffer in Krueger’s office said the senator is downstate for the first night of Passover and plans to return to Albany some time around noon tomorrow. In other words: The Democrats will definitely have their ranking member on the Finance Committee and one of their most prolific debaters in the house for these votes. And, I just received the following email from Andrew Goldston in Krueger’s office:
“Sen. Krueger wanted me to reach out and make sure you knew she was proudly Jewish and proudly a member of the Senate Democratic conference. At this time she does plan to be in Albany tomorrow evening for votes.”
“That said, she’s incredulous that the majority coalition has the Senate unnecessarily debating and voting on budget bills during the second night of Passover and then rolling through the midnight hour to vote on the remaining budget bills that are not live until Wednesday. What excuse is there not to wait until daylight on Wednesday?”
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