There has been a dramatic development in Wisconsin. All 14 Democrats in the state Senate have left the Capitol building, thereby denying a quorum and preventing a vote on the Republican plan to cut salaries, health insurance, pensions and bargaining rights for state employees. Milwaukee reporter Nick Bohr broke the story over twitter (tweets presented in chronological order):
Democrats plan to refuse to come to senate floor when session is called at 11.
Sen. Tim Cullen, a democrat, says they're under belief that Senate needs 20 senators present to vote. There's only 19 republicans.
Cullen says he is leaving the Capitol before the Sergeant at Arms is sent after the Democrats.
Cullen further said all Senate Democrats have left Madison.
Multiple reports now seem to be confirming that every Senate Democrat has left the Capitol building, thus preventing a vote on the measure.
The partisan balance of power in the Wisconsin State Senate is 19-14, with 20 required for a quorum. Thus, if only one Democrat had shown up, the bill would have passed.
Democrats may still show up, and there is no telling how long they can hold out. Still, this fight in Wisconsin has provided the clearest answer in a while to the sometimes murky question about the real differences between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans want workers to have lower salaries, more expensive health insurance, smaller pensions and fewer rights than Democrats. And that, my sisters and brothers, really is worth fighting for.
Update--Senate Democrats leave the state: State police are searching for the Democratic Senators, but local news says the Dems left the state. As such, Wisconsin state police no longer have jurisdiction. A standoff has begun.
Update 2: The protesters, who are the heart of this fight, have increased their already significant, 24-hour-a-day presence inside the Capitol building to over 4,000 strong. Here is a pic: