The reason given: security concerns.
Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said he called the session "to force the issue" and gain a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's "budget repair" bill. Democrats weren't even present when action began, but when they arrived they loudly objected.
That's not why Fitzgerald adjourned the session within 30 minutes. Rather, he told WisPolitics, he sent everyone home because Walker called to tell him to get members and staff out of the building; "their safety could no longer be assured."
Later, a statement was issued by Fitzgerald, Majority Leader Scott Suder and Rep. Robin Vos saying:
The leadership of the Assembly has decided to recess due to security concerns. We will reconvene on Tuesday morning and are confident that the security concerns will no longer exist. We are committed as ever to pass Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill and will do so next week. Millions of taxpayers spoke in November and we will not let them down. We have a fiscal crisis that can’t be ignored. We have the votes to pass the bill; it is only a matter of time.Before the adjournment, the Assembly approached chaos, according to the Journal Sentinel. Republican leaders were pushing action even before the Democratic members arrived, and by a voice vote made sure the bill could not be amended. But with the adjournment, that action was cancelled. The Assembly will resume deliberations at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, said the Republicans' actions "violated Assembly rules and traditions" and were "illegal and unprecedented." "You have trampled on our democracy," he said.
He issued the following statement:
“Being in the majority does not mean you get to take away people’s freedom,” said Mason. “It’s outrageous enough that you are determined to trample on workers’ rights, but now, tonight, with your illegal actions, you have trampled on the very foundation that our legislative actions rest upon.”
The Assembly’s session was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. The quorum call began at approximately 4:56 p.m., and votes to engross the bill and suspend the first and second reading of the bill passed on voice votes. The body was set to vote on final passage of the bill when Democrats were finally recognized by the Speaker. The Republicans have 58 members in their caucus, which meets the three-fifths quorum requirement for a fiscal bill.
“I have never been so angry or so disappointed,” said Rep. Mason. “The same people sent us here. We swore an oath to our constituents that we would adhere to certain principles that are the foundation of our democracy. I do not even recognize what is happening in this great state.”
Republicans later agreed to rescind their illegal votes, return the bill to an amendable stage, and then adjourned the Assembly until Tuesday.
“While I appreciate that my Republican colleagues saw the grievous error of their ways and did the right thing by rescinding their illegal votes, the fact remains that they were hell bent on passing this bill in an unprecedented and illegal way tonight. I am outraged.”
“You get to set the agenda but we have rights. And they will be abided by,” Mason concluded.
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