Rachel Maddow, and a lot of other folks, were pronouncing last night that the Democrats in Wisconsin, after almost two weeks of protesting, had essentially won. Despite Governor Scott Walker’s insistence that he would not negotiate with Democrats on collective bargaining rights, it looked as though he was showing signs of breaking under the pressure of the unions, and starting to consider concessions. But, things took yet another turn this evening, when the Senate Republicans of Wisconsin announced that they’d found a way to strip the collective bargaining measure from the budget bill, and, thereby, get around the need for a quorum. (As you’ll recall, the 14 Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate had left the state two weeks ago in order to stop the budget bill from coming to a vote.) So, this evening, the Republicans extracted the union busting component from the budget bill, and voted on it individually, without a quorum, or, for that matter, a single Democrat in the chamber. As you could probably guess, it passed resoundingly. The Madison teachers union have released a statement saying the Wisconsin Senate’s “improper and illegal action will be challenged in court.” The following clip comes from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Senate – without Democrats present – abruptly voted Wednesday to eliminate almost all collective bargaining for most public workers.
The bill, which has sparked unprecedented protests and drawn international attention, now heads to the Assembly, which is to take it up at 11 a.m. Thursday. The Assembly, which like the Senate is controlled by Republicans, passed an almost identical version of the bill Feb. 25.
The new version passed the Senate 18-1 Wednesday night, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) casting the no vote. There was no debate
Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) said Democrats who have been boycotting the Senate for three weeks would return to Wisconsin once the bill passes the Assembly, although he declined to be more specific.
From Feb. 17 until Wednesday, the Senate Democrats were able to block a vote on the bill because 20 senators were required to be present to vote for it. Republicans control the house 19-14.
Late Wednesday, a committee stripped fiscal elements from the bill that they said allowed them to pass it with a simple majority present. The most controversial parts of the bill remain intact.
That committee, formed just hours earlier, quickly approved the bill as the lone Democrat at the meeting screamed that Republicans were violating the state’s open meetings law.
The law requires most public bodies to give 24 hours notice before they meet. The conference committee met with about two hours notice.
“This is a violation of law! It’s not a rule!” Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) bellowed…
And here’s footage shot outside the Senate chamber, just after the vote took place.
And this, my friends, is what it looks like when your country is hijacked… This was never about balancing the budget of Wisconsin. This, from the very start, wasn’t about getting concessions from the unions. This was about breaking the unions. And, now, assuming the judicial branch doesn’t get involved, it looks as though it’s been accomplished.