The Wisconsin GOP have extracted the small portions of the stalled bill which require a quorum and passed the remainder without Democratic participation. So, the stalemate is over and Republicans have won. GOP senate leader Scott Fitzgerald released a statement:
Before the election, the Democrats promised "adult leadership" in Madison. Then a month and a half into session, the Senate Democrats fled the state instead of doing their job.
In doing so, they have tarnished the very institution of the Wisconsin state Senate. This is unacceptable.
This afternoon, following a week and a half of line‐by‐line negotiation, Sen. Miller sent me a letter that offered three options: 1) keep collective bargaining as is with no changes, 2) take our counter‐offer,which would keep collective bargaining as is with no changes, 3) or stop talking altogether.
With that letter, I realized that we're dealing with someone who is stalling indefinitely, and doesn't have a plan or an intention to return. His idea of compromise is "give me everything I want," and the only negotiating he's doing is through the media.
Enough is enough.
The people of Wisconsin elected us to do a job. They elected us to stand up to the broken status quo, stop the constant expansion of government, balance the budget, create jobs and improve the economy. The longer the Democrats keep up this childish stunt, the longer the majority can't act on our agenda.
Tonight, the Senate will be passing the items in the budget repair bill that we can, with the 19 members who actually DO show up and do their jobs. Those items include the long‐overdue reform of collective bargaining needed to help local governments absorb these budget cuts, and the 12 percent health care premium and 5 percent pension contribution.
We have confirmed with the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Reference Bureau that every item in tonight's bill follows the letter of the law.
The people of Wisconsin elected us to come to Madison and do a job. Just because the Senate Democrats won't do theirs, doesn't mean we won't do ours.
It's possible the GOP actually waited for the Democrats to return on hyper-ethical principles (hoping to involve them in a proper vote). Otherwise they conservatively hoped to avoid the potential stigma of a one-party vote, or daringly allowed the circus to continue in hopes of favorable poll results. I imagine a combination of all three.
Liberals are, naturally, unhappy. MoveOn decried the vote as "shameful, unprecedented, and probably illegal" before calling for the impeachment of the entire Republican senate. Union protestors in Madison yelled "You are cowards!" (Ironically, given their representatives are hiding in another state.) But it's hard to take seriously accusations of ethical wrong from those who have countenanced three weeks of truancy by the entire Democratic senate.
And the fleebagger 14 haven't promised to return anytime soon. They fear that their return could permit a vote on the original bill. A nefarious mind would suggest the Republicans continue with their (non-quorum-dependent) agenda while the Dems continue thinking it over.
The left's strategy will seek to move the battle from the legislature to the courts (the Wisconsin Supreme Court is up for grabs in April) and to recall (impeach) GOP senators and Scott Walker. More interestingly, there is already talk of general strikes - which could easily backfire on the unions.
National attention will soon shift to Indiana and Ohio - and possibly onward from there, if the process begins to ease with repetition.