Scott Walker wins: Wisconsin Republicans through union-busting bill [UPDATE]
Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly finally dropped all pretenses about Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting bill having anything to do with balancing the state's budget.
Wednesday night, with 14 Democrats still on the lam trying to block a vote, the Senate used a stealth move to strip all appropriations language out of the bill, leaving them free of quorum rules to vote on the rest of the measure--the part that neuters public employee unions.
There was no debate. The hack job took about 30 minutes to pass, 18-1. The bill went back to the Assembly, where it passed this afternoon, 53-42. [Update after the jump.]
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, right, tells Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, back to the camera, he's breaking the law.
Wham, bam, thank you ma'am.
All that talk about compromise earlier in the week proved to be just that--talk.
"To pass this the way they did--without 20 senators--is to say that it has no fiscal effect," Timothy Cullen, one of the Democratic senators holed up in Illinois, told the New York Times. "It's admitting that this is simply to destroy public unions."
Watch the video below. The rules change is announced by a tense Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald during a hastily called conference committee meeting in front of an army of reporters and photographers.
The chants of outside protesters rises in the background--thousands convened on the Capitol as news of the maneuver leaked out.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca presses the point that the Republican maneuver is in violation of various state laws, and "trampling on democracy." Fitzgerald first ignores him, then tries to interrupt him, and then demands a roll call.
"No!" Barca yells and springs to his feet. "This is a violation of the state's open meetings law," he insists, over and over as the cameras roll.
Fitzgerald and his allies walk away.
Behold Democracy in Wisconsin:
"They have been saying all along that this is a fiscal item; we've been saying it is not," said Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach told the Madison State Journal. "They have been lying. Their goal is to bust up the unions."
Well if they flip the state senate, which is obviously their goal with eight recalls going on right now, they can take control of the labor unions. If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you're going to find is President Obama is going to have a much, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.
Update: Protesters furious at the Republican stealth maneuver stormed into the Capitol last night, and gathered outside again this morning, led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. At about 11 a.m., state troopers cleared the building forcibly, and in the process cut off entry to at least two Democratic lawmakers. Assemblyman David Cullen even showed his identification and was still turned away -- he climbed in through a window.
After the Assembly passed the bill this afternoon, Walker issued a statement saying he would sign the bill as soon as it landed on his desk.
Walker and the Republicans have won the battle. But it appears the war is not yet over. Recall petition drives against Walker and others are now under way.
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Have you seen these senators?
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