The Wisconsin Senate succeeded in voting Wednesday to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, after Republicans outmaneuvered the chamber's missing Democrats and approved an explosive proposal that has rocked the state and unions nationwide.The unions had been attempting to intimidate the Republicans, who had been voted in by the people last fall.
All 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois nearly three weeks ago, preventing the chamber from having enough members present to consider Gov. Scott Walker's "budget-repair bill" - a proposal introduced to plug a $137 million budget shortfall.
The Senate requires a quorum to take up any measure that spends money. But Republicans on Wednesday took all the spending measures out of Walker's proposal and a special committee of lawmakers from both the Senate and Assembly approved the revised bill a short time later.
The unexpected yet surprisingly simple procedural move ended a stalemate that had threatened to drag on indefinitely.
After Republicans cut off debate a little more than three hours after it started, Democrats jumped up to protest. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) brought a megaphone out from under his desk and through it yelled, "Mr. Speaker, I demand to be recognized."
He was ignored.