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The report begins: "Republicans in the Wisconsin state Senate dropped a threat on Tuesday to deny 14 Democratic counterparts the right to vote in the chamber because they fled to Illinois last month."

The 'Wisconsin 14' democratic state senators return to a hero's welcome at the capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, 03/13/11. (photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The 'Wisconsin 14' democratic state senators return to a hero's welcome at the capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, 03/13/11. (photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)



Wisconsin 14 Won't be Sanctioned by GOP Senate

By Reuters

15 March 11


Stand In Solidarity With the Workers of Wisconsin

epublicans in the Wisconsin state Senate dropped a threat on Tuesday to deny 14 Democratic counterparts the right to vote in the chamber because they fled to Illinois last month.

In an e-mail sent late Monday to his 18 Republican colleagues, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald claimed the 14 Democrats were still technically in contempt and that any votes they made in standing committees would not be counted.

"They are free to attend hearings, listen to testimony, debate legislation, introduce amendments, and cast votes to signal their support/opposition," Fitzgerald wrote, "but those votes will not count, and will not be recorded."

But on Tuesday, Fitzgerald and Senate President Mike Ellis backed off that claim, which the Democrats, who collectively represent about 2.2 million Wisconsin voters, had blasted as "the height of arrogance."

Andrew Wellhouse, a spokesman for Fitzgerald, reiterated the claim that the 14 remain in contempt, and a resolution of the Senate was needed to lift it. But because the Senate is not scheduled to reconvene in full session until early April 5, that will not happen any time soon.

So in the meantime, all the penalties the Republicans slapped on the Democrats in an effort to get them to return to the state, which included $100-a-day fines and a ban on their ability to vote, have been lifted, Wellhouse said.

In late February, the 14 Democrats fled Wisconsin to Illinois to deny their Republican counterparts the quorum they needed to pass the anti-union bill. In response, Senate Republicans held the Democrats in contempt and then used a legislative maneuver to pass the measure without a quorum.

The 14 returned to the state late last week and were greeted as heroes by the estimated crowd of up to 100,000 people who protested the measure in Madison on Saturday.

The protests came after Republican Governor Scott Walker signed into law the measure, which imposes sweeping new limits on collective bargaining for public sector workers and has sparked a national debate over labor relations.

Walker has said the bill, which sharply limits the union rights of public workers and requires them to pay more of their health insurance and pension costs, was needed to help the state close a $3.6 billion budget deficit over two years.

Reporting by Jeff Mayers and James B. Kelleher; writing by James B. Kelleher.

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+26 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2011-03-15 22:39
"The height of arrogance?" More like the depth of arrogance.

I wish the Republicans had tried to pull that off — at least their open disenfranchisem ent of 2.2 million Wisconsin voters of representation would have been "open," and it would have invited a continuing rain of wrath from the Wisconsin electorate.

But the mere flaunting of the Republicans' consideration of such an egregious act of political hostility has to remind those in Wisconsin — and the rest of the nation alike — that the Republicans are hell-bent on using their elected positions to undermine democracy and set the stage for a permanent Republican majority — just like W. Bush, Karl Rove and the neocons tried to do for eight years.

The Republicans are always trying to get people to believe they are the ideological embodiment of the forefathers, so the appropriate symbols for the effort to recall these impudent, audacious. scorched-earth thugs should be a pot of tar, a bale of feathers, and long rails — THAT'S what the forefathers would have done.
 
 
+4 # Gary Ray Pierson 2011-03-16 01:56
Well if we worked for the CIA, we could send in diversion and assassination squads and call em some Patriotic name like Liberation Front and just blow em away and get away with it.. Damn, I did get into the wrong business... Pushy people business, the sales man who won;'t get his foot out of the door.. The snake eating it self... GOP are just bad for the country and we should pass a law making them illegal, like aliens... Put em in a place like Guantanamo.. Wipe their faces off with wet rags and ask em, what are you up too, Grand Ol Three Ring Circus Party with pachyderm crap all over the place.. Cpl. Pierson 101st Airborne Vietnam
 
 
+1 # wfalco 2011-03-16 11:41
Quoting Gary Ray Pierson:
Well if we worked for the CIA, we could send in diversion and assassination squads and call em some Patriotic name like Liberation Front and just blow em away and get away with it.. Damn, I did get into the wrong business... Pushy people business, the sales man who won;'t get his foot out of the door.. The snake eating it self... GOP are just bad for the country and we should pass a law making them illegal, like aliens... Put em in a place like Guantanamo.. Wipe their faces off with wet rags and ask em, what are you up too, Grand Ol Three Ring Circus Party with pachyderm crap all over the place.. Cpl. Pierson 101st Airborne Vietnam


Thanks for the needed humor, Cpl. Pierson-althoug h like all good satirists your not that far from the truth.(See 80's policy in Central America.)
 
 
+6 # Palli 2011-03-16 06:17
How could a decent and honest lawmaker not be in contempt of that Wisconsin Senate?
 
 
+1 # Beck 2011-03-16 12:42
Good one. Expand the class to "decent, honest person."
 
 
+8 # restore2america 2011-03-16 07:23
Recall the GOP Senators in Wisconsin. Arrogant, greedy bought minions of the Koch-Rich.
 
 
+14 # granny 2011-03-16 07:26
We need to keep reminding the PEOPLE of Wisconsin what the Governor of Wisconsin and the GOP Senate of Wisconsin have done and threatened to do: muzzle and then kill the loyal opposition who have the best interests of the PEOPLE of the state. They snuck in and, without following open meetings and open records laws, cobbled together and then passed the legislation that strips workers' rights. we must not let people forget. Vote April 5 to allow a check on tyranny.
 
 
+2 # giraffee2012 2011-03-16 10:25
The GOP keeps stepping in the "mud" with their haughty (idiotology - made up word) rants should not fool one American. THose who voted R - might think 2x before voting R again. At least keep your eyes / ears clear. You will not escape the wrath of the FAT CATS who support the elections of the R: i.e. prevent the Kock brothers' scheme by your VOTE. VOTE D and be sure to VOTE.
 
 
+2 # aikidokurt 2011-03-16 10:45
we should thank all of king Walkers' men for such a kind gesture; they will "allow" the duly elected representatives to sit in the legislature...k ind, kind king Walker!
 
 
+5 # genierae 2011-03-16 11:24
These corporate-owned Republicans have no heart and no conscience, and they are intent on destroying everything decent and good in this country. They want to privatize every aspect of the federal government, plus they also want to privatize our local town governments. They will fire the mayor, sell off our utilities, hire contractors for our police and fire departments, and if the protests get big enough, they will call in the National Guard. There is NOTHING that they will not stoop to in order to get their way. The protesters in Wisconsin have my highest regard, I pray that their enthusiasm spreads across this country. We must throw off this Republican scourge if we ever want to live in peace.
 
 
-4 # Yachtsman 2011-03-16 15:31
I'm not looking for an argument -- just a reasonable and civil explanation why an elected representative to the Wisconsin Senate is justified in halting the people's business by absenting himself from his responsibilitie s because he believes his position on the issue is in the minority. Elections do have consequences. The minority will have a chance to become the majority in future elections. That's the American way and the bedrock of the democratic process.
 
 
+2 # Robert Griffin 2011-03-16 19:19
As far as I, a Californian, can tell, the senators who left the state were acting to oppose what appeared to them (and apparently would have appeared to their supporters) as an egregious abuse of political power.
Simple vocal opposition on the floor of the state capitol would have accomplished nothing.
Others may disagree with their reasoning or their conclusions, but it does seem to me that theirs was an act of conscience.
 
 
-3 # Yachtsman 2011-03-16 20:46
I know of no abuse of power in Wisconsin. Rules were followed -- debate was allowed followed by a casting of votes. "Simple vocal opposition" is what debate is all about. But just because that debate does not result in swaying colleagues to your side is not a reason to bring the democratic system we all (used to) support to a halt. This kind of behavior has been seen in unenlighted, lawless, third world countries in the past -- not the U.S. This is pathetic behavior that should shame us all.
 
 
0 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2011-03-16 21:54
You state: "But just because that debate does not result in swaying colleagues to your side is not a reason to bring the democratic system we all (used to) support to a halt."

Really? You must surely know that the US Senate Republicans set all-time records filibustering almost every piece of Senate legislation since Obama became president — bringing the legislative process TO A HALT.

The Wisconsin 14 were protecting the rights of their constituents and ENSURING AS BEST THEY COULD THAT THE WILL OF THE MAJORITY WOULD PREVAIL ON THIS ISSUE. The majority in Wisconsin is AGAINST the actions of Walker and the Republicans on this issue. The electorate does not abdicate its will until the next election.

Walker and his crony Republicans assaulted democracy by putting the will of the corporations over the will of the people, making THE VERY PURPOSE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AN ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY. In addition, he purposefully misled and misinformed the electorate, and a knowledgeable electorate is fundamental to a democracy.

WALKER broke the budget (with his corporate tax give-aways), not the public unions. His efforts to turn Wisconsin into a banana-republic plutocracy SHOULD SHAME US ALL, or at least every Republican — the REST of us are only ashamed that Republicans call themselves Americans.
 
 
+3 # NCMike 2011-03-18 08:24
A filibuster is a Congressional measure allowed for in the rules of that body to force a supermajority to agree with a provision before it gets passed into law. Comparing that to what the Democrats in Wisconsin did is farcical at best. The WI Dems chose to ignore protocol and leave the State because they could not win the debate. That is the real assault on democracy because it prevents the functioning of the system instead of operating within it. Neither side gets to win the day every time, but both sides have the opportunity to inform the public of their perspectives and try to win votes for seats in the next legislature. That is how things in this nation are meant to operate. Your opposition to Gov. Walker's position does not make his view wrong, just different. What is wrong is your claim that corporate give-aways broke the budget. WI has a deficit over $3B, the tax breaks given to incentivize business were worth approximately $150M.
 
 
-4 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2011-03-18 13:18
My comments were in response to "Yachtsman" and his new-found concern about "bringing democracy to a halt." (Read the thread.) The filibuster was never intended to be used for every single piece of legislation, just as signing statements weren't intended to be used over 700 times by a sitting president. So my comparison wasn't farcical in the least.

Walker stepped outside his role as a governor and leveraged his office to play politics to break the unions - AFTER they made budgetary concessions. The democrats played politics right back - touche! - and did everything in their power to protect the rights of their electorates.

Now we see comments like yours that are essential saying "How DARE the Democrats not follow specific protocol when we Republicans are trying to crush the little guy! How dare they go rogue when we go nuclear!" So remember your concern for parliamentary procedure when the whole Republican cynical circus is challenged in court. And by the way, I find it laughable that the same Republicans who now are getting their panties in a wad about the "illegality" of the Democrats' walk-out have no concern whatsoever about the illegality of the Iraq War, torture, giving no-bid contract power to Walker in Wisconsin, etc. There's character for ya.
 
 
0 # A. Zide 2011-03-17 12:42
Republicans have become right wing radical corporate extremists... they do not represent the people nor are they 'conservatives' . They certainly are not 'conserving' the democratic process with filibustering and blocking any and all proposals, legislation that the Democrats brought to the floor.
They essentially 'taught' the Democratic members of the WI assembly to use such tactics ....
"Fascism should rather be called corporatism, as it is the merging of government and corporate power." --Benito Mussolini
 

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