(MADISON, Wis.) -- The Wisconsin standoff escalated a notch Thursday when Senate Republicans threatened to hold their missing Democratic colleagues in contempt if they don’t return to the chamber in Madison by 4 p.m. Central time Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said, “They’re insulting the very fabric of our representative democracy.” The 14 Senate Democrats have been hiding out in Illinois since February 17th to stall a vote on Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to dismantle collective bargaining for state employee unions. Fitzgerald said the Democrats could be taken into custody if they enter Wisconsin. Attorneys who drafted the contempt order point to precedents including the U.S. Capitol Police carrying “Senator Bob Packwood feet first into the Senate chamber” when the Senate ordered the arrest of absent senators to fulfill a quorum during a campaign finance debate in 1988.
Democratic Senator Spencer Coggs told ABC News the stalemate “has taken an ugly turn” and that Republicans were attempting to be “punitive” instead of negotiating in good faith.
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