The Wisconsin state assembly passed Gov. Scott Walker's union-crushing bill after 61 hours of debate but only seconds on voting. Democrats were surprised when the vote was called, around 1 a.m., and many didn't even get a chance to vote against the legislation, Talking Points Memo's Eric Kleefeld reports. Just seconds after the vote was called, the digital vote recorder show 51 ayes and 17 nays; immediately voting was cut off, meaning 28 lawmakers didn't vote. Republicans left the room single file as Democrats chanted "Shame!"
The real battle, though, is in the state senate. Fourteen Democratic state senators have fled the state to prevent a vote, and it's unclear when they'll come back, the Associated Press reports. Republicans dispatched state troopers to the absent senators' homes Thursday, but couldn't find them.
Walker says that if the bill isn't passed Friday, he'll have to begin laying off state workers next week because Wisconsin will miss its deadline to refinance $165 million of debt.
A clip of Democrats chanting:
Meanwhile, outside Wisconsin, governors are distancing themselves from Walker's fight with the unions, The Washington Post's Ariana Eunjung Char and Amy Gardner report. Ohio Republicans are no longer trying to outlaw collective bargaining. Michigan's governor says he'll negotiate with public sector unions. And Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels--touted as a potential Republican presidential candidate--called on members of his own party to ditch their "right to work" bill, which would have forbidden requiring workers to join a union.