Madison - The Assembly ripped into a bitter debate over Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair and union-bargaining bill Thursday afternoon after police carried protesters out of the body to make way for GOP lawmakers to enter.
Just before the session, the Rev. Jesse Jackson held a prayer and asked for unity between Republicans and Democrats - a brief bipartisan respite in a day of heated debate and demonstrations.
But the moment was quickly over, as Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) called for the removal of Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) at the start of the Assembly session.
Nearby in Madison Thursday morning, lawyers for Barca filed a complaint with the Dane County district attorney's office alleging Fitzgerald and a legislative committee violated the state's open meetings law Wednesday when it passed the measure. Republicans deny that claim.
"Your speaker is impaired," Barca yelled on the Assembly floor as the protesters could be heard chanting outside the chamber. "Our democracy is out of control in Wisconsin . . . You all know it, you all feel it."
But Jeff Fitzgerald said the Assembly Thursday will pass the controversial union-bargaining bill, which would repeal most collective bargaining by public employees. He said eventually Republicans will end debate and call for a vote on the bill. He declined to say how long debate will go on.
"You know what? We feel it's the right thing to do to get this state back on the right track," Fitzgerald said.
The Assembly voted, 57-37, to deny Barca's request to strip Fitzgerald of his post. Republicans said the move was a delay tactic to slow passage of the bill.