Assembly Republicans created a firestorm at the Capitol early Friday when they cut off debate and voted on the budget repair bill, passing the controversial legislation just after 1 a.m.
Democrats were furious after the 51-17 vote, which ended a marathon debate session that lasted more than 60 hours. As Republicans left the chamber moments after the vote, Democrats stood in unison yelling, "shame, shame!"
The bill will now move on to the state Senate, which will not be able to act on it until at least one of the 14 Senate Democrats returns to the state.
State Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, said 15 representatives were still in line to speak when the Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, announced a vote.
Mason said under Assembly rules, during the final passage representatives are allowed to speak without time limits. He said the move by Kramer was possibly in violation of the rules and even the law.
"I can't think of a time when the minority party felt the need to remove the presiding officer for being so blatantly unfair, but we felt we had no other choice," he said.
Mason said shutting down the right of minority party to dissent had never happened before.
"This is really a stain on our democracy," Mason said.
Protesters camping out in the Capitol reacted first with shock and confusion having heard the uproar in the Assembly. Upon hearing what happened, leaders urged demonstrators to remain calm.
State Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, said there were indications beforehand that the debate might be cut off.
"When [Kramer] wouldn't commit, that's when we knew something started to smell a little fishy," Hulsey said.
State Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said he wouldn't comment on the vote "until we can have a unified voice."
Hintz also noted attorneys said the vote will most likely not stand up.
A 58-38 party-line vote against a compromise to the budget repair bill proposed by Assembly Democrats was expunged earlier Thursday afternoon, allowing more time to discuss Democratic amendments and extending the Assembly's Marathon session indefinitely.
Republicans repeatedly attempted to table the amendments in hopes of voting on the overall bill earlier in the night.
After the process came to an end, Hulsey called the conclusion "bittersweet."
"I do Iron Mans for fun, and this is like when you've been going for 140 miles, this is what it feels like," Hulsey said.