Dozens upon dozens of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoes were almost overridden last week in the state Legislature.
Three votes away from a supermajority in the state Assembly, Republicans there made a play, after a long day in session, and noticing two Democrats had left to go home to Milwaukee — Rep. Marisabel Cabrera and Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez.
It was on that day, last Thursday, that Doyle, a Democrat from Onalaska representing the 94th District, was lying on his office couch most the day, sick with COVID-19.
“ So about 11 o’clock (p.m.) or so, the Republicans did what’s called “a call to the House,” to see if they had enough to override all of Gov. Evers’ vetoes,” Doyle said Tuesday on La Crosse Talk PM. “So, at that point, they’re doing the roll call and magically I appeared in the Assembly chambers, mask and all, and there was a visible and audible groan when I walked in because the Republicans saw that they were not going to be able to override the dozen, or a couple dozen, of governor Evers’ vetoes.”
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Republicans must have forgot about him or hoped he had also left to go home — to recover.
“ They thought for sure, they hadn’t seen me since, like, early afternoon,” Doyle said. “They thought for sure that I had actually ducked out and wasn’t there, and that this was gonna be a home run for them. I mean, they would have just called up veto after veto after veto, and overridden each of them. It was a chance for them to really do their thing in one fell swoop.”
“ I don’t always end up being the vote that makes the difference,” Doyle continued, “but the fact that I arose from my deathbed to get to the Assembly chambers made a difference.”
It’s a story that doesn’t make the headlines, especially lately, but it sure would have, had Doyle not decided to stay in his office, or get up at 11 p.m. — 13 hours after the session had started — and zombie walk to the chamber to vote.
Republicans could have overridden nine bills and 51 budget provisions had Doyle not been in the chamber to vote. Those overrides could have included recent vetoes to tax cuts for the rich and public school funding for the next 402 years that gave Evers some bargaining power moving ahead.
It’s a telltale sign of how unharmonious things are in Madison, where politicians try and see if they can sneak in a late-night session to catch a 65-year-old possibly passed out on the couch with COVID and undo one of the reasons voters reelected Evers back in November.
It’s likely not seen as a productive way to legislate, either. It ends up being a waste of everyone’s time — not to mention a factor on at least one person’s health — but Doyle also pointed out the burden it is on the taxpayer.
“ It’s unfortunate because when we’re in town here, we get paid mileage and per diem for trips that are basically more of a protection rather than an expectation that any legislative business is going to be done,” he said. “ Our party, unfortunately — and it kind of sucks for the taxpayers — but we need to be here every day that we are potentially scheduled for session, just in case that kind of a thing happens.”
So, while Republicans make national headlines for trying to impeach a newly-elected state Supreme Court justice — who won a statewide vote by 11 points — or then attempt to deflect that news by passing an entire new way to draw voting districts — with no public hearings — Doyle also pointed out the deeper side of political games that are being played in troublesome Wisconsin.