Kill the Bill! Or At Least Delay It Like Crazy!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 23 2011 8:35 AM

Kill the Bill! Or At Least Delay It Like Crazy!

My new piece takes you to the Wisconsin state assembly as Democrats tried -- and continue to try -- to slow down the budget repair bill by talking and talking.

"If there's one more violation of these rules," said Barca, "we'll be debating it and we'll be voting on it! We will not stand for that kind of behavior." He spotted two members smiling. "You can laugh back there, gentlemen. You can laugh at these rule violations. Maybe I should come to your district and meet with your editorial board."

Rep. Kevin Peterson, one of the smilers, got up to respond. "Stop stalling with tactics on the floor," he sighed. "As soon as you come and do your jobs, then we can have time to debate in the districts."

"Thank you very much," said Barca, quietly. "I appreciate that. Because first of all it shows how ignorant of the law you are !" That last part was delivered with a full-throated shout, as if Barca had become trapped down a well and needed help from a passing helicopter. " It's illegal! Are you really that cavalier? "

Barca and two other Democrats unloaded on Republicans. One of those Democrats, Rep. Andy Jorgensen, turned red as he accused two Republicans of fist-bumping during the Friday vote. "This isn't a comedy club!" he said. "This isn't open mic night!"

It was a bizarre debate, one that Republicans weren't particularly interested in.

"We could stop the theatrics!" said Rep. Dale Kooyenga, a young-looking freshman member of the GOP caucus. "We could stop these back and forths, and these little games that politicians play, and we could say, 'No more! The consequences are too high!' "

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David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.