Washington (CNN) – Congressmen weighed in on the ongoing strikes in Wisconsin Sunday, debating the appropriate involvement of national figures.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called the president's recent remarks on the situation "inappropriate."
"I think the president should be focusing on what we're doing in Washington," Graham said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "When the president talks about Wisconsin, I think that is really inappropriate."
Last week President Obama said that the collective bargaining reform proposal seemed "like more of an assault more on unions."
The protests of thousands in Madison started last Monday. Newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker is asking legislators to pass a bill to combat a $137 million budget shortfall by slashing collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin public employees. Opponents say the proposed legislation is an attack on workers' rights.
But Graham said Walker is "doing what he campaigned on."
"He said he would ask (for) contributions from government employees for pensions and health care at a level that I think is reasonable," he said.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of neighboring Illinois said everyone should weigh in to ensure decades of efforts to establish workers rights are not destroyed, adding that the protests go "way beyond the discussion of the Wisconsin budget."
"For over 80 years in America we've recognized the rights of our workers to freely gather together, collectively bargain, so that they can have fairness in the workplace and fairness in compensation," Durbin said on NBC. "This governor of Wisconsin is not setting out just to fix a budget; he's setting out to break a union."
Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said the events in his state are a microcosm of the budget pressure felt throughout the country.
"It just shows the point, all levels of government have been making empty promises to people," Ryan said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "And these governors are telling people the truth. We need to do the same thing in Washington."
Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Gov. Walker reiterated his criticism of President Obama, saying he should "stay focused on fixing the federal budget."
"Believe me they've got their hands full," Walker said. "They're far from getting it accomplished in Washington."