Playing a game of political chicken, Democratic senators who fled Wisconsin to stymie restrictions on public-employee unions said Sunday they planned to come back from exile soon, betting that even though their return will allow the bill to pass, the curbs are so unpopular they'll taint the state's Republican governor and legislators.Gee, you mean they're not man enough to face the consequences of their cowardice?
The Wisconsin standoff, which drew thousands of demonstrators to occupy the capitol in Madison for days at a time, has come to highlight efforts in other states to address budget problems in part by limiting the powers and benefits accorded public-sector unions.
Sen. Mark Miller said he and his fellow Democrats intend to let the full Senate vote on Gov. Scott Walker's "budget-repair" bill, which would also limit public unions' collective bargaining rights. The bill, which had been blocked because the missing Democrats were needed for the Senate to have enough members present to consider the bill, is expected to pass the Republican-controlled chamber.
He said he thinks recent polls showing voter discontent with Mr. Walker over limits on bargaining rights have been "disastrous" for the governor and give Democrats more leverage to seek changes in a broader two-year budget bill Mr. Walker proposed Tuesday.
Andrew Welhouse, a spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, said the short-term budget-repair bill can no longer be amended. He said when Democrats return they will be able to speak on the bill, "but we plan to pass it as soon as possible."
Mr. Miller declined to say how soon the Democratic senators, who left for Illinois on Feb. 17, would return. He said the group needed to deal with several issues first—including the resolution Senate Republicans passed last week that holds the Democrats in contempt and orders police to detain them when they return to Wisconsin.
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