Up to now, the Budget Repair Bill in Wisconsin has been frozen because all fourteen Senate Democrats will not return to the state to negotiate it. There’s no quorum — the bill, which consists of many fiscal components, can’t pass.
Republicans in the Senate are trying an end run around that now. They have called a conference committee meeting — which is open to the media — where the key fiscal component of the bill, a refinancing provision, will be stripped out. The collective bargaining component, the pay cuts, pension reform — all still there. That would allow the stripped-down bill to pass the Senate with no Democrats present.
This is incoherent in a number of ways. First, Gov. Scott Walker’s argument for not putting the collective bargaining and union dues/formation reforms on the negotiating table has been, since the beginning, that they were necessary for letting local governments balance their budgets. They are, technically, not “fiscal components” — they just deal with huge sums of money. Second, Republicans punted on a voting reform bill two weeks ago because they did not want to split the fiscal portions of the bill — funding for IDs, for those who couldn’t afford them — from the rest of it.
UPDATE 7:22 p.m. ET: The Senate held a quick session and passed the bill, 18-1, with wavering Sen. Dale Schultz voting no.
The amended legislation goes to the Assembly, where Republicans, as ever, have the votes to push it through.
UPDATE 7:30: Matt Miller, leader of the Senate Democrats, issues a statement:
In thirty minutes, 18 State Senators undid fifty years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten. Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people. Tomorrow we will join the people of Wisconsin in taking back their government.
The lede: They’re coming back.
I’m already seeing calls for a general strike on my Twitter feed. The DCCC have started mobilizing recall efforts for several of the Republican Senators. And tonight, the Rotunda is filling up with a lot of pissed off Cheeseheads.
Needless to say, all I can add at this point is….
STRIKE! STRIKE YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARDS! STRIKE!