The number-two House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, made the case Tuesday that Republicans have no right to criticize Wisconsin Democratic state senators for fleeing the state capitol to avoid voting on a budget bill, because Republican efforts to block bills from votes in the U.S. Senate amount to the same thing.
The Wisconsin Democrats "don't want something coming to the floor unless they can fully participate and not be rolled," Hoyer said. "Thirty- eight, 39, 40, 41 Republicans did that consistently over the last four years in the United States Senate. Now, they were here, but they said we would not vote to bring measures to the floor of the United States Senate. I see no substantive difference."
Hoyer, who has not spoken publicly about the standoff between Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic legislators, defended the legislators who oppose a bill that would limit union worker bargaining rights.
He acknowledged that labor groups need to give some concessions in tough economic times. "A case can be made that we have to reign in benefits and require more contributions," Hoyer said. But he criticized the Republican governor's action, saying, "To respond by using that as an excuse for taking away from workers the right to collectively bargain is to retreat on a century of policy here, and the commitment that this country has made to workers being able to better themselves."