published Monday, February 21st, 2011

Wisconsin GOP ups pressure on Dems to return and vote

  • photo
    Wisconsin Minority Leader Peter Barca, center, D-Kenosha, speaks as Republican Assembly members leave the chambers for caucus at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., Friday, Feb. 18, 2011. The Wisconsin State Patrol was dispatched Friday to find a Democratic state senator who fled the Capitol to delay the near-certain passage of a bill to end a half-century of collective bargaining rights for public workers, a measure that's attracted thousands of protesters for four days. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Republicans on Sunday upped the pressure on Democrats who fled to Illinois to return home and vote on an anti-union bill, with the governor calling them obstructionists and a GOP lawmaker threatening to convene without them.

Gov. Scott Walker said the 14 minority Democrats who left Madison on Thursday were failing to do their jobs by “hiding out” in another state. And Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said his chamber would meet Tuesday to act on non-spending bills and confirm some of the governor’s appointees even if the Democrats don’t show up — a scenario that should outrage their constituents.

Senate Democrats acknowledged that the 19 Republicans could pass any item that doesn’t spend state money in their absence. The budget-repair bill they have been blocking requires a quorum of 20 senators to pass, while other measures require only a simple majority of the chamber’s 33 members.

Nonetheless, Democrats said they were standing firm in their opposition to the budget-repair bill, which would take away the right of most public employees to collectively bargain for their benefits and working conditions. Hundreds of protesters filled the Capitol for a sixth straight day, noisily calling on Walker to drop the plan they consider an assault on workers’ rights.

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