Wisconsin Farce Ending: AWOL Democrats Scramble Back After Republican Senate Finds Loophole To Pass Controversial Bill

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And so the biggest farce in US politics so far in 2011 (absent of course from the whole debt [ceiling|target] debate, not to mention the ridiculous budget, but those are topics for another day) is about to come to an end. After earlier tonight the Wisconsin Senate used a "procedural move on Wednesday to pass the proposal without the Democrats present" thereby rendering their three week long self-appointed exile to Illinois moot, "the leader of Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate says his caucus will return to the state, but he won't say when." The loophole used by the Republicans is that in lieu of passing the full budget bill, lacking a Democrat vote for a quorum, they instead formed a
special committee to isolate only the collective bargaining portions of
the bill and passed it with just 19 votes. The Seattle Times reports: "the floor session lasted just minutes, and the state Assembly is
scheduled to take up the measure on Thursday morning. That's the last
step before it can go to Walker for his signature. Senate Democratic leader Mark Miller of Monona says Democrats will
"join the people of Wisconsin in taking back their government," but he
refused to say when." In other words, the first attempt at forced austerity in the US is about to be ancted. What happens next will likely not be pretty as it suddenly becomes evident that the whole "cost-cutting" thing that is so popular in Europe is about to really come to the world's most entitled country.

To commemorate ending the Democrats' three week long vacation from , Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald issued the following statement:

After nearly a month of debate on the budget repair bill, nearly three weeks of childish stunts and delay tactics from the Democrats, the longest public hearing in state history and the longest Assembly debate in state history, the Senate met tonight to pass the non-fiscal items in the Budget Repair Bill.  Sen. Fitzgerald released the following 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.

"Tonight, the Senate will be passing the items in the budget repair bill that we can, with the 19 members who actually DO show up and do their jobs.  Those items include the long-overdue reform of collective bargaining needed to help local governments absorb these budget cuts, and the 12 percent health care premium and 5 percent pension contribution.

"We have confirmed with the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Reference Bureau that every item in tonight's bill follows the letter of the law.

"The people of Wisconsin elected us to come to Madison and do a job.  Just because the Senate Democrats won't do theirs, doesn't mean we won't do ours."

And for those inclined to read what laws actually pass in this country, below is the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's summary of the passed bill, while the actual 138 page bill can be found here.

2011_03_09 Modification to SS SB 11_AB 11

h/t John Poehling