Lawmakers flee state in US budget fight

February 18, 2011 02:47

MADISON, Wisconsin — A group of Wisconsin lawmakers blocked passage of a sweeping anti-union bill Thursday by ignoring orders to attend a vote. Instead, they left the state to force Republicans to negotiate over the proposal.

As ever-growing throngs of protesters filled the US Capitol for a third day, the 14 Democrats disappeared from the Capitol. They were not in their offices, and aides said they did not know where any of them had gone.

Hours later, one of them told The Associated Press that the group had left Wisconsin.

US Sen. Jon Erpenbach said Democrats fled to delay consideration of the bill in the hopes that Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers would discuss changes.

"The plan is to try and slow this down because it's an extreme piece of legislation that's tearing this state apart," Erpenbach told the AP in a telephone interview.

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