Early this morning, Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly approved legislation stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights, in the face of ongoing protests that have gripped Madison for well over a week. The bill passed at 1:17 a.m., and Republicans only held the vote open for “seconds.” The vote was called while many Democrats were outside the Assembly chamber, preventing them from casting no votes. Only 13 of the Assembly’s 38 Democratic members got their votes in on time.
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) praised the Assembly’s action in a statement. However, the Assembly Republicans’ late-night procedural shenanigans fly directly in the face of commitments Walker made on the campaign trail, where he promised to end late-night votes because “nothing good happens after midnight”:
He promised to sign legislation if elected governor that prohibits the Legislature from voting after 10 p.m. or before 9 a.m.“I have two teenagers and I tell them that nothing good happens after midnight. That’s even more true in politics,” he said in a statement. “The people of Wisconsin deserve to know what their elected leaders are voting on.”
A campaign spokesperson said at the time that Walker believes 10 p.m. is the appropriate hour to end floor work. “Scott’s been there and he’s seen it,” she said, referring to late-night work that allows lobbyists undue influence over legislation. Of course, this supposed commitment to transparency didn’t stop Walker, when he was a member of the Assembly himself, from “join[ing] with the Republican majority in January 1997 to eliminate a rule that required lawmakers to finish their floor sessions at 8 p.m.”
The anti-worker bill now moves to the Wisconsin state senate, which is unable to convene a quorum because its Democratic members are in Illinois, in protest of Walker’s attack on public sector employees. Meanwhile, Main Street movement protests have spread, with workers planning demonstrations in New Jersey and Florida.