MADISON, Wis. —No resolution appeared imminent Monday to the stalemate over union rights in Wisconsin, leaving Senate Republicans resigned to forge ahead with less-controversial business such as tax breaks for dairy farmers and commending the Green Bay Packers on winning the Super Bowl.
As the standoff entered its second week, none of the major players backed down in a high-stakes game of chicken that has riveted the nation and led to protests that drew a high of 68,000 people on Saturday. Thousands more braved winds and temperatures in the 20s to march again Monday, waving signs that said "Stop the attack on Wisconsin families" and "solidarity."
The 14 Senate Democrats who skipped town Thursday to delay a vote on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's bill stripping most collective bargaining rights from nearly all public employees remained missing for a fifth day.
Walker again called on the Democrats to return and vote.
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"For those 14 Senate Democrats, you've had your time," he said. "It's time for them to come back and participate in democracy."
The Democrats have done numerous television interviews and two of them even participated, via telephone from an undisclosed location, in a meeting to schedule the Senate's session today.
"You have shut down the people's government, and that is not acceptable," Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said to them.
The Senate and Assembly planned to be in session today to take up the bill, but at least one of the missing Democrats needs to show up for a vote to be taken in the Senate. Assembly Democrats planned to offer dozens of amendments that could push a vote into Wednesday or later.
Although today's list of items, including the resolution honoring the Packers, is largely bipartisan, Fitzgerald hinted that he might try to push more controversial ones later, even if the Democrats aren't back. Among the possibilities is a vote on the question of whether voters should be required to show identification at polls.
Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller said Democrats were waiting for Walker to compromise.
"It's right in front of the governor," Miller said. "He just needs to pick it up and allow us to move on.... This is a no-brainer."
Under one deal, the unions said they would accept paying more for benefits as Walker wants but still retain their collective bargaining rights. Another compromise offered by Republican Sen. Dale Schultz would remove collective bargaining rights just for two years.