Is Wisconsin Standoff Winding Down?
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
Legislative Democrats, who fled Wisconsin to strip majority Republicans of the quorum necessary to enact any budget-related legislation, said Sunday (March 6) that they intend to return to their state to vote on the "budget repair bill" at the heart of the standoff. The legislation, pushed by Republican Governor Scott Walker, would require public workers to pay substantially more for their benefits and sharply limit their collective bargaining rights.
Walker and other Republicans say the measures are necessary to balance the budget, but Democrats see them as a political attack on unions, which have traditionally opposed the GOP at the polls and financed Democratic campaigns.
By announcing their imminent return to Madison, Democrats are handing the GOP a short-term victory but betting that the anti-union measures "are so unpopular they'll taint the state's Republican governor and legislators," according to The Wall Street Journal . Numerous polls have shown that the public opposes aspects of the plan, particularly its restrictions on collective bargaining.
It is unclear when, exactly, the 14 Senate Democrats who have fled Wisconsin will return to vote. Last week, Senate Republicans passed a resolution authorizing the missing legislators' arrest on contempt charges, but it is unclear whether the arrest order is legal. Democrats say they want to resolve that question before returning to Wisconsin.