In what Republicans called "a Virginia version of Harry Reid's nuclear option," Democrats in the state legislature invoked new rules giving them control of all state Senate committees.
With Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam casting the tie-breaker Tuesday, the evenly split Senate was reorganized on a 21-20 vote.
Republicans branded it "a day of outrageous power grabs." They maintained that the existing Senate rules and organization governed for a four-year term, coinciding with the Senate election cycle.
"It is a partisan game to advance a radical agenda without accountability to Virginia voters," said state Sen. Tom Garrett.
"The new Senate rules subvert the Virginia Constitution by creating a veto and vesting it in the chairman of the Rules Committee," he told Watchdog.org.
"It is no overstatement to say that (the Democrats') creation of a super senator in the form of the Rules chairman makes John Edwards (D-Roanoke) far more powerful than even the lieutenant governor."
Garrett, a former commonwealth attorney from Louisa County, said Edwards "can singlehandedly pull any Senate bill from the purview of the full body and kill it in a party-line vote without having the accountability and transparency of a floor vote on the record."
Democrats say they're merely doing what Republicans have done when they held a majority.