Republicans in Wisconsin's state assembly passed Governor Scott Walker's budget bill, including controversial anti-union provisions, before sleep-deprived Democrats knew what hit them. At 1 a.m. this morning, after three grueling days of debate and filibusters by the minority Democrats, Republican speaker pro tempore Bill Kramer called a voice vote. Within seconds, the ayes had it, 51 to 17. Only 13 of the Assembly's 38 Democrats managed to vote. Democrats said they were pressing the electronic "No" button on their desks as hard as they could and started booing and chanting, "Shame! Shame! Shame!" once the digital vote system on the wall announced the tally. In a video replay, one unidentified Democratic legislator "could be seen throwing his papers and a beverage of some kind into the air in the heat of passion."
The bill still has to pass in the state Senate, which has been unable to reach a quorum with fourteen Democrats in self-imposed exile in Illinois. Senate Republican majority leader Scott Fitzgerald ordered state troopers to find the missing legislators, but their whereabouts are still unknown. These kinds of legislative shenanigans probably won't make them very keen to come back home.
From the Assembly's gallery, one onlooker caught the democrazy in action (the ones in the orange T-shirts are the Dems):