Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wisconsin Budget: In the middle of the night

I don't think I'll ever forget Feb. 24, 2011, and the early morning hours of the 25th. It was when any remaining feeling in my mind that "politics are boring" was completely washed away.

What I witnessed happen in the Wisconsin Capitol was pure, unadulterated drama. Like watching two base hits and a double happen in the bottom of a shutout game that went into extra innings, there were hours upon hours of nothing and then 10 minutes of everything.

Assembly Democrats held out on the floor for hours. They debated. They proposed amendments. They even tried to remove the Speaker Pro Tempore from his position.

Just after 1 a.m., Republicans (with a solid majority) ended debate, called the roll, and voted to pass the budget repair bill. This all happened so quickly that 28 state representatives (2 of them Republicans and the lone Independent) couldn't get their vote in. The measure passed 51-17. (You can watch it happen here)

Very unfortunately, I think, due to the timing of events that night (which I presume was calculated), most of these pictures never saw print because of deadlines and the news-cycle and will perhaps only serve the historical records.

Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a press conference at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Walker reiterated the possibility of layoffs of public employees if his budget repair bill did not pass.

State Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink watches the roll call board as votes come in on a motion by Assembly Republicans to table an amendment to the budget repair bill proposed by Assembly Democrats in the state Assembly at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. The motion was tabled.

From left, Assembly Democrats state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, state Rep. Jon Richards, state Rep. Gary Hebl, state Rep. Peter Barca and state Rep. Fred Clark discuss how they will proceed at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., Thursday evening, Feb. 24, 2011.

State Rep. Peter Barca explodes in anger after Assembly Republicans voted to give, and gave, the budget repair bill its third reading, before recognizing Barca, in the state Assembly at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., Thursday evening, Feb. 24, 2011.

State Rep. Bill Kramer, tries to calm tempers in the state Assembly at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., Thursday evening, Feb. 24, 2011, after a motion was made to remove him from his position of Speaker Pro Tempore.

Protesters swarmed the West Gallery after Assembly Republicans gave the budget repair bill its third reading in the state Assembly at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., Thursday evening, Feb. 24, 2011.

State Rep. Bill Kramer looks out over the state Assembly as members discuss a motion to remove him from his position as Speaker Pro Tempore at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., Thursday evening, Feb. 24, 2011.

State Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) holds a rule book for the state Assembly during debate in session at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., early Friday morning, Feb. 25, 2011.

Assembly Democrats, from left, state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison), state Rep. Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie), background, and state Rep. Fred Clark (D-Baraboo) show the first signs of outrage as their Republican counterparts cut off debate and voted on the budget repair bill state Assembly at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., early Friday morning, Feb. 25, 2011.

State Reps. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee), left, and Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison), right, shout while approaching the Speaker Pro Tempore in the state Assembly after Republicans cut off debate and voted on the budget repair bill at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., early Friday morning, Feb. 25, 2011.

State Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) and other Assembly Democrats approach the front of the chamber in outrage as their Republican counterparts cut off debate and voted on the budget repair bill in session at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., early Friday morning, Feb. 25, 2011.

To jeers of "Shame!" yelled by the Assembly Democrats, Assembly Republicans, foreground, immediately walk out of the chamber after cutting off debate and voting to pass the budget repair bill at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., early Friday morning, Feb. 25, 2011.

State Rep. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland) gestures at Assembly Republicans as they walk out of the chamber after cutting off debate and voting on the budget repair bill at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., early Friday morning, Feb. 25, 2011.

Assembly Republicans walk out of the chamber into elevators escorted by law enforcement officers after cutting off debate and rapidly voting to pass a controversial budget repair bill in the state Assembly at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., early Friday morning, Feb. 25, 2011.

Escorted by law enforcement officers, Assembly Republicans exit the state Capitol after cutting off debate and rapidly voting to pass a controversial budget repair bill in the state Assembly in Madison, Wis., early Friday morning, Feb. 25, 2011.
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