March 11, 2011- The White House is denouncing a vote by the Wisconsin Senate to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from government workers, calling it an assault on public employees.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama believes it is wrong for Wisconsin to use its budget troubles 'to denigrate or vilify public sector employees.'
The state Senate acted Wednesday night by using a procedural move that allowed them to pass the anti-bargaining rights measure without any Democrats in the chamber.
About 200 people spent the night in the Capitol in protest over swift and unexpected passage of the bill by the Senate on Wednesday night.
This afternoon the Assembly followed the Senate's lead, voting 53-42 to adopt the bill.
Four Republicans joined all Democrats in opposing it. The vote drew shouts of 'shame, shame, shame' from protesters in the gallery.
Governor Scott Walker is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.
The passing of the bill follows a night of high drama as Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate used a loophole to force through the bill.
The long-running dispute has been held up because any bill that costs money to enact requires a quorum – minimum number of senators – to be passed.
In a bid to hold up Republican Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill, designed to plug a $137 million budget shortfall, opposition Democrat senators fled to Illinois three weeks ago, preventing the legislature from passing it.
So, in the deliberate absence of the 14 Democrats, the Republican senators last night bypassed the opposition by separating the union rights issue into a new bill and voting it through on their own on Wednesday.