America

Surprise! Wisconsin Assembly Holds Flash Vote

The Wisconsin state assembly abruptly voted overnight to cut off debate on the controversial financial legislation backed by Gov. Scott Walker. Didn't know that was happening? Neither did many of the Democratic lawmakers. From the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal:

Wisconsin Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, rests during Assembly debate on Feb. 23, 2011. i

Wisconsin Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, rests during Assembly debate on Feb. 23, 2011. Andy Manis/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Andy Manis/AP
Wisconsin Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, rests during Assembly debate on Feb. 23, 2011.

Wisconsin Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, rests during Assembly debate on Feb. 23, 2011.

Andy Manis/AP

Just after 1 a.m., Republicans cut off debate on Gov. Scott Walker's bill and in pell-mell fashion the body voted 51-17 to pass it. In the confusion, nearly one-third of the body - 28 lawmakers including 25 Democrats, two Republicans and the body's lone independent - did not vote on the bill at all.

This is the legislation the Wisconsin senate Democrats wanted to stop so badly they left the state, and Frank lays it out for us on It's All Politics.

TalkingPointsMemo's headline shouts, PANDEMONIUM, while the AP notes Democrats 'exploded' when they realized the vote had been held open for only a few moments.

Debate had gone on for 60 hours and 15 Democrats were still waiting to speak when the vote started...Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, opened the roll and closed it within seconds.

Democrats looked around, bewildered. Only 13 of the 38 Democratic members managed to vote in time.

Wisconsin Democrats are already incandescent with rage over the bill that removes many collective bargaining rights from some public sector unions. The legislation goes next to the Wisconsin state senate but the Democratic senators aren't there - and until they return, it can't proceed. Meanwhile, assembly Democrats have called for the removal of the Republican Speaker Pro Tem Kramer who runs debate on the floor.

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