MADISON, Wis. — No resolution appeared imminent Monday to the stalemate over union rights in Wisconsin, leaving Senate Republicans resigned to forge ahead with less-controversial business such as commending the Green Bay Packers on winning the Super Bowl.
As the standoff entered its second week, none of the major players offered any signs of backing down in a high-stakes game of political chicken that has riveted the nation and led to ongoing public protests that drew a high of 68,000 people on Saturday. Thousands more braved cold winds and temperatures in the 20s to march again Monday, waving signs that said "Stop the attack on Wisconsin families" and "solidarity."
The 14 Senate Democrats who skipped town Thursday to indefinitely delay a vote on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's bill stripping most collective bargaining rights from nearly all public employees remained missing in action for a fifth day.
Walker refused to back down and again called on the Democrats to return and vote on the bill
"For those 14 Senate Democrats, you've had your time," he said.
The Democrats have been far from in hiding. They've done numerous television interviews and two of them even participated, via telephone from an undisclosed location, in a meeting to schedule today's Senate's session.
"You have shut down the people's government, and that is not acceptable," Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said to them during the meeting.
Both the Senate and Assembly planned to be in session today to take up the bill, but at least one of the missing Democrats needed to show up for a vote to be taken in the Senate.
Although today's list of items, including the resolution honoring the Packers, is largely bipartisan, Fitzgerald hinted that he might try to push some more controversial ones later, even if the Democrats aren't back. Among the possibilities is a vote on the question of whether voters should be required to show identification at the polls.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller said Democrats were waiting for Walker to compromise.
Walker has repeatedly rejected compromise offers, saying local governments and school districts can't be hamstrung by the often lengthy collective bargaining process and need to have more flexibility to deal with up to $1 billion in cuts he will propose.