The vote came in the weest hour of the morning, and it came so quickly that more than two dozen members didn’t get a chance to cast a vote — mainly Democrats. In the end, the bill that frightened off the entire Democratic caucus in the Wisconsin state Senate passed easily in the lower chamber, 51-17, in what had been a foregone conclusion:
After a bitter, 61-hour debate that was the longest in living memory, the sleep-starved state Assembly voted in just seconds early Friday to approve a watershed proposal repealing most union bargaining rights held by public workers.
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.
Democrats in the lower chamber reacted in the mature fashion their party has exemplified for the past two weeks:
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.
Yes, shame …. because sixty-one hours of debate is obviously not nearly enough to conduct the state’s business. At least these Democrats remained engaged in the process, though. They may have stalled the bill as long as possible, but they did so within the rules.
The same cannot be said of their Fleebagger colleagues in the state Senate. Minority Leader Mark Miller continued his Irony Tour of Everywhere But Wisconsin with this reaction:
“(Walker) just seems to say he can wait it out and not feel any consequences and be impervious to public opinion,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) said in a telephone interview. “He’s got to realize there’s more to leadership than just demanding your own way.”
Er … like stamping one’s feet and fleeing the state, with the minority refusing to participate and do their jobs unless Walker makes changes to a bill that would easily pass the legislature? That kind of “just demanding your own way” is exactly what the minority caucus has been doing for over a week. If Miller wants to negotiate, the state of Wisconsin has a forum for that: the legislature.