Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker walked away from a self-imposed deadline of Friday for approving his controversial "budget repair bill" as the legislature remained embroiled in gridlock and 14 lawmakers in the Senate stayed in hiding.
Walker would not say how long he would wait for the bill that he says would balance the state's budget, repeal most union collective bargaining rights for public workers, and gives his administration power to change the state's health program to pass.
But he said failure to move the bill forward could result in state aid to local governments being cut by nearly $1 billion, and teacher layoffs. "Year after year politicians passed the buck and that's precisely why we are in trouble today and its got to stop, said Walker. "Its not just about protecting the taxpayers, but its also about protecting the workers".
After 50 hours of debate, the Wisconsin Assembly is closer to voting on the bill.
But neither Republicans nor Democrats are willing to blink first in the week-long debate that has resulted in 14 lawmakers in the Wisconsin Senate fleeing their state, and brought tens of thousands of protestors inside the Wisconsin capitol building.
Earlier it was believed that Assembly Democrats and Republicans had reached a deal to speed up the vote by limiting the minority to 38 amendments given under a strict 10 minute time frame.
But drums and faint chants of "this is what democracy looks like" continued to pierce through the thick wooden doors of the Assembly as Democrats charged repeatedly that Republicans were giving them a similar ultimatum as the unions.
"The same deal that was given to us was given to workers, take it or leave it," said Rep. Joe Parisi (D- Madison).
The Republican leadership says they have been lax on time limits during the marathon session.
Assembly speaker Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) said "time is running out before the lack of a vote forces pink slips to start going out."
If that happens it may hit close to home. Fitzgerald's brother Scott is Senate Majority Leader and his wife, who works as a counselor in a local school district received a preliminary layoff notice.
Protesters followed and applauded the Assembly Democratic Minority leadership as a small group tried to meet with Gov. Scott Walker in his office and offer a compromise to the week-long impasse. Walker was a no show.
The Democrats proposed to keep collective bargaining rights for public workers. Gov. Walker later said he had reviewed the proposal and that it was more of the same.
The Republican leadership in the Assembly called the move a stunt. Before Thursday, Democrats had threatened to propose hundreds of changes to the controversial bill that has garnered national attention and brought union supporters from across the nation in support of their Wisconsin colleagues. Minority leader Peter Barca said he decided to limit discussion only after Democrats were given an ultimatum to either limit the number of amendments or that the process was going to be shut down.
"The majority party is not allowing us to speak. We were told we will go nuclear and stop your ability to speak. If that happened, this would be a very disruptive room. We still have a lot to talk about in this very bad 144 page bill," said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison).