Democrats agree to heal schism in NY state Senate

New York State Capitol in Albany (File Photo)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York Senate Democrats have resolved a longstanding internal power struggle that empowered Republicans and prevented votes on liberal priorities including gun control, early voting, abortion rights and help for immigrants.

Under a deal negotiated by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and announced Wednesday, the eight-member faction known as the Independent Democratic Conference is reuniting with mainline Democrats. Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers will lead the combined group, with IDC leader Jeff Klein of the Bronx as deputy leader.

State Sen. Dave Valesky, D-Oneida, has been a member of the breakaway Democrat coalition.

Republicans control the Senate with support from the IDC and a ninth breakaway Democrat, Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder. Felder hasn't said whether he'll also return to the Democrats.

Republicans still hold the Senate majority for now, though Democrats hope to take over following two special Senate elections April 24.

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