Assembly Republicans convened their floor session a few minutes before its scheduled start Friday evening and moved Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget repair bill toward final passage before Democrats could enter the chamber, prompting howls of outrage from Assembly Democrats.
The action, taken on a voice vote, prevented the Democrats from introducing any amendments to the bill, which severely curtails public employees' collective bargaining powers.
Democrats began yelling as they entered the chamber to find the majority Republicans were voting on the bill.
"This is unbelieveable. Unprecedented. Un-American," yelled Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha. "This is just the most outrageous thing I have ever seen."
Barca called the actions "illegal" and a violation of Assembly rules.
"There is a stink in this body. There's a stain on the history of this state with what you've done."
Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, responded by saying that he started early because "Honestly, I thought you guys weren't showing up."
Fitzgerald acknowledged that Barca was correct in his reading of the rules, and members allowed the bill to return to its amendable stage. Fitzgerald then moved to adjourn the Assembly until 10 a.m. Tuesday, prompting a standing ovation from Democrats, who promised to continue working on amendments to the bill.