25 February 2011

A small victory for the Wisconsin budget-repair bill

Wisconsin Dems throw a fit after losing vote
The basics:
Wisconsin Assembly Democrats attempted to use an endless series of amendments to prevent a vote on the budget repair bill proposed by Republicans.

When their juvenile, transparent ploy failed, they threw a fit, papers and a drink at Republicans.

Quoted sections from By Jason Stein, Steve Schultze and Bill Glauber of the Journal Sentinel:
Just after 1 a.m., Republicans cut off debate on Gov. Scott Walker's bill and in pell-mell fashion the body voted 51-17 to pass it. In the confusion, nearly one-third of the body - 28 lawmakers including 25 Democrats, two Republicans and the body's lone independent - did not vote on the bill at all.
The Republicans have not been in charge of this body for very long, so I am not sure if the procedure is new or if it has been around for a while.

All Democrats voted against the proposal along with four Republicans - Dean Kaufert of Neenah, Lee Nerison of Westby, Richard Spanbauer of Oshkosh, and Travis Tranel of Cuba City.
A bi-partisan defeat.

Democrats erupted after the vote, throwing papers and what appeared to be a drink in the air. They denounced the move to cut off debate, questioning for the second time in the night whether the proper procedure had been followed.

'Shame! Shame! Shame!' Democrats shouted in the faces of Republicans as the GOP lawmakers quietly filed off the floor and a police officer stood between opposing lawmakers.

'Cowards all! You're all cowards,' yelled Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Madison) as another Democrat tried to calm him down.
Cowards?  They were present for the vote and they voted.  Both chambers of the US Congress have dictionaries available for their members.  I suggest Brett Hulsey introduce a bill to have one handy whenever he feels the urge to speak.

Most Republicans had no comment on the vote afterward and some were escorted out under police protection. Earlier in the night, Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) said that Democrats had been given more than two full days and nights to make their case - effectively turning the debate into a filibuster - and that Republicans had done nothing wrong.

'It seems clear our side wants to vote and I challenge anyone watching to say we have not held out for an adequate debate,' Suder said.

“The democrats were clearly stalling,” said Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc). “That’s why Assembly rules allow for a vote on final passage. We took that vote and did what the people of this state asked us to do on Nov. 2 – get spending under control.”
I wonder if Chris Matthews will point that out during his show.
Democrats said they still had 15 speakers and had not heard Republicans invoke and carry out the rarely used rule to end the debate before voting on the bill. That rule requires a motion seconded by 15 members and then a roll call vote. Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller said afterward he was not sure whether that had occurred, saying he had heard the order to start a vote on the final passage of the bill and had done so.

Later Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison) said, 'We never imagined they would do it as they did, not even properly using the nuclear option.'

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said Democrats would 'explore every option' in deciding whether or not to challenge the vote.
Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison)
61 hours of debate were a lot more than Obamacare got before passage.  Did Kelda Helen Roys have the same objection to the federal government stunt?  I did not find anything on that, but I did find this on her own government-funded website:
Wisconsin needs a Governor with the courage to face our state’s challenges head on, by showing up at the bargaining table – instead of invoking the National Guard in a cynical attempt to intimidate teachers, nurses, and public safety workers.
I had no idea that preparing the National Guard to fill vital government services in the case of a strike was so intimidating to teachers.  I can see how health care and public safety could get a little edgy when the public sees how well Soldiers perform these functions.  Back to the Journal Sentential.

The national spotlight and the full pressure of continued protests now returns to the state Senate, where one GOP senator has said he wants to amend Walker's plan and where Democrats have blocked a vote on the proposal by holing up in Illinois.
That would be this bunch, covered before on this blog.  If one wants to look for cowards, try tracking down the WI and IN Democrats hiding in Illinois.

Walker and the GOP-led Senate have only a few days to pass the bill and have it signed into law before a key part of the proposal is lost. A refinancing of state debt that would free up $165 million must be done by early next week or it will fall through and Republicans will have to find more cuts to balance the budget.
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More interesting developments.  The governor of Wisconsin is trying to track down Senate Democrats and get them back to work for the vote.  Some reports say he is using the National Guard to track down AWOL legislators.

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