20 days after the 14 Wisconsin Democratic Senate members made a beeline for Illinois so they couldn't be compelled to return to their jobs, Republicans called an immediate conference committee meeting, open to the media, stripped out elements considered "fiscal components" (which is why the majority couldn't vote without at least 1 of the missing Democrats present for a quorum), voted 4-2 to allow the Senate vote to be held on all other portions of the bill, which do not require a quorum, and the Senate voted 18-1 to pass the budget repair bill.
Governor Scott Walker issued a statement addressing the passage of his budget repair bill through the Senate, which now heads to assembly who have already passed the version with the elements just removed, so it is expected to fly through easily.
"The Senate Democrats have had three weeks to debate this bill and were offered repeated opportunities to come home, which they refused. In order to move the state forward, I applaud the Legislature's action today to stand up to the status quo and take a step in the right direction to balance the budget and reform government. The action today will help ensure Wisconsin has a business climate that allows the private sector to create 250,000 new jobs."
Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald also issued a statement:
Before the election, the Democrats promised “adult leadership” in Madison. Then a month and a half into session, the Senate Democrats fled the state instead of doing their job.
In doing so, they have tarnished the very institution of the Wisconsin state Senate. This is unacceptable.
This afternoon, following a week and a half of line-by-line negotiation, Sen. Miller sent me a letter that offered three options: 1) keep collective bargaining as is with no changes, 2) take our counter-offer, which would keep collective bargaining as is with no changes, 3) or stop talking altogether.
With that letter, I realized that we’re dealing with someone who is stalling indefinitely, and doesn’t have a plan or an intention to return. His idea of compromise is “give me everything I want,” and the only negotiating he’s doing is through the media.
Enough is enough.
The people of Wisconsin elected us to do a job. They elected us to stand up to the broken status quo, stop the constant expansion of government, balance the budget, create jobs and improve the economy. The longer the Democrats keep up this childish stunt, the longer the majority can’t act on our agenda.
More from JSOnline and NYT.
A little news on why the GOP chose now to make the move on the bill is given to us by Christian Schneider over at National Review:
A letter Democrat Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller sent the governor today, indicating Miller’s unwillingness to further negotiate any details of the bill, was what prompted the GOP’s decision to take the bill to the floor.
“It was like, ‘I’m in the minority, and I’m going to dictate to you what your options are,’” said one GOP source about Miller’s letter. It was just three days ago that Miller had sent Fitzgerald a letter urging more negotiations, despite the fact that Governor Walker had been negotiating with at least two Democrat senators for nearly a week. “With his recent letter, it became clear that all he wanted to do was stall,” said the GOP source.
Another action that provoked the GOP senators to act was Democrat Senator Lena Taylor’s very public decision to have a spring election absentee ballot sent to her in Illinois. The spring election is scheduled for April 5th, which indicated Taylor’s desire to stay out of the state for another month. “That sure didn’t help,” said one GOP source.
Ironic that the runaway WI Democratic Senators watched it all live streamed from their hideaway in Illinois instead of being there to witness and participate in the procedure, yet they are crying foul now.
The lead runaway, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, told the AP "It's a done deal," and there is nothing Democrats can do to stop it.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Miller said there is nothing Democrats can do now to stop the bill: "It's a done deal."
The Democrats may now turn renewed energy toward current efforts to recall eight of the Republican state senators. Six Democratic senators also are the target of recall efforts.
Senate Democrats met late Wednesday night to discuss when they might return. They said they would not be back Thursday, but gave no indication when they might come home.
"We are going to watch and see how the Assembly unfolds," said Sen. Spencer Coggs. "There will be fireworks. There will be a lot of people at the Capitol and so it will be hard to get in and out of the Capitol."
Ezra Klein makes this point:
Assuming Scott Walker’s procedural maneuvering last night was legal — and, as I’ll explain in a moment, there are some questions about that — then it was also legitimate. Certainly as legitimate as the Democrats fleeing the state to deny the Republicans quorum. They did something procedurally extraordinary to stop the bill from being passed, and he did something procedurally extraordinary to get the bill passed.
Personally I do not think it should have come down to any "procedurally extraordinary" actions in the first place. Republicans were handed control, they have the majority, Democrats the minority, both sides should have done their jobs and if the public, after all was said and done and votes were taken accordingly, didn't like what Republicans had done, then voters would be able to rectify that at the next election.
Had Democrats been in control and Republicans ran away from home to hide out rather than allow Senate to function and vote on items that needed a quorum, my heavens we would never have heard the end of it from liberals.
Put the shoe on the other foot and you have people like Klein referring to the action with the word "legitimate" in the same sentence.
Even more ironic than the runaway Democrats having to watch the proceedings from their hideaway, is a comment I see over at Taylor Marsh's blog:
As an aside, can you imagine if Democrats had a majority that they would ever act like this to push their ideology against what the people want?
Excuse me for a second while I laugh my ass off before responding.
Okay, now, a one word response to Ms. Marsh- OBAMACARE (Scroll down at that link to see poll after poll after poll showing exactly how the "people" and their "wants" were completely ignored by the Democratic majority.
I am still laughing at the brass balls it took for Marsh to write that little bit of entertainment and not see the glaring hypocrisy of it.
Better yet, imagine if it were Obamacare protesters that pulled this stunt:
A highly connected source in Wisconsin politics tells Fox Nation all hell is breaking loose at the state capitol.
“Republican leadership was considering calling in SWAT teams or the National Guard. Plans have been set. We have almost completely lost control of the capitol building. Protesters now control the first and second floors and are amassing outside the governor’s office. The third and fourth floors are under control but we’re not sure what side our security is on. Law enforcement is leaking evacuation plans to the protesters. An official tried to evacuate through a secret underground tunnel and was turned back by protesters. No one is safe. Protesters have broken down doors, broken windows, Democrats are helping them into the building and they’re building momentum. They’re robo-calling like crazy, trying to pack as many people into the capitol so the Assembly can’t vote today. Right now there’s no way the Assembly can vote…we can’t secure the Assembly and we can’t protect our legislators. If the protesters fill up the capitol all the way, the governor would have to declare a state of emergency and hold a vote off site.”
Stay tuned for more developments…
UPDATES: Sources say: "Police control the lobby to the Assembly Chambers and they think they are in a position to take back control of the Assembly Chambers. However, right now all they control is the lobby."
Photographer Bob Lee says protesters are being forcibly dragged by police out of the Wisconsin Assembly room. They are dragging and escorting the protestors that are blocking entrance to the assembly now.
Protesters were chanting last night that the world is watching.. yes, it is, watching union thugs and temper tantrums run rampant.
Furthermore Unions are talking about massive strikes to try to shut the state down, well a provision in the bill says if they do that, they can be fired for it.
The reactions to this are coming out fast and furiously, with updates, news, photos and video being provided from a variety of sources. You can keep up with it all over at Memeorandum.
[Update] The death threats begin.
Via 620WTMJ NewsRadio:
Among the threats the Justice Department is investigationg is one that was emailed to Republican Senators Wednesday night. Newsradio 620 WTMJ has obtained that email.
The following is the unedited email:
Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your familes will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks. Please explain to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. Read below for more information on possible scenarios in which you will die.
WE want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in the past couple of weeks I and the group of people that are working with me have decided that we've had enough. We feel that you and the people that support the dictator have to die. We have tried many other ways of dealing with your corruption but you have taken things too far and we will not stand for it any longer. So, this is how it's going to happen: I as well as many others know where you and your family live, it's a matter of public records. We have all planned to assult you by arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head. However, we decided that we wouldn't leave it there. We also have decided that this may not be enough to send the message to you since you are so "high" on Koch and have decided that you are now going to single handedly make this a dictatorship instead of a demorcratic process. So we have also built several bombs that we have placed in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent. This includes, your house, your car, the state capitol, and well I won't tell you all of them because that's just no fun. Since we know that you are not smart enough to figure out why this is happening to you we have decided to make it perfectly clear to you. If you and your goonies feel that it's necessary to strip the rights of 300,000 people and ruin their lives, making them unable to feed, clothe, and provide the necessities to their families and themselves then We Will "get rid of" (in which I mean kill) you. Please understand that this does not include the heroic Rep. Senator that risked everything to go aganist what you and your goonies wanted him to do. We feel that it's worth our lives to do this, because we would be saving the lives of 300,000 people. Please make your peace with God as soon as possible and say goodbye to your loved ones we will not wait any longer. YOU WILL DIE!!!!