Mon, February 28, 2011
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14 Wisconsin senators hiding from vote

2011-02-28 08:03:49 GMT2011-02-28 16:03:49(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Demonstrators occupy the state Capitol in protest against proposed budget cuts in Madison, Wisconsin, February 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Darren Hauck)

BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhuanet) -- Fourteen Democrats in Wisconsin Senate were hiding outside the state to oppose Governor Scott Walker's new labor bill, according to BBC's report Thursday.

The bill aims to eliminate the collective-bargaining rights of nearly 170,000 public employees in Wisconsin and require them to contribute more to their pensions and healthcare, in order to cut the state's 3.6 budget deficit.

The state Capitol in Madison had been surrounded by countless protestors, since the bill was released two weeks ago. Police officials estimated the number of people gathered was 70,000-100,000.

The Republican-controlled Assembly started the debate over the bill on Feb. 22 and planned to vote on Thursday.

However, these 14 Democrats' absence drove the bill into an impasse. Republicans occupied 19 seats in state's Senate, which cannot reach the minimal number of 20 for a legal vote.

Army troops and policemen were sent to search these missing Democrats, who were reported to fly to Illinois on Feb. 17.

Democrats have said they won't come back until Walker is willing to negotiate.

Walker shows no signs of backing down, neither to the protesters camped out nor to the missing Democrats senators.

If the bill cannot be passed, it would possibly result in a deeper crisis in which 1,500 workers might be laid off over the next four months, warned the state's Governor.

(Agencies)

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