MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called three fellow Republicans “terrorists” for how they negotiated the state budget with Gov. Scott Walker, leading party leaders to demand an apology.
Vos made the comment in an interview aired Sunday on the WISN-TV’s program “Up Front with Mike Gousha.” He did not immediately reply to messages Monday.
Vos was referring to a deal Walker cut with conservative Republican state Sens. Duey Stroebel, of Saukville, Steve Nass, of Whitewater, and Chris Kapenga, of Delafield, to veto parts of the budget they objected to in exchange for their support for the larger plan that was already 10-weeks past due.
Vos has been openly critical of the lawmakers’ tactics, previously saying they were holding the budget hostage by crafting their own deal outside of one worked on by Republican leadership and Walker.
Vos in late September texted his displeasure to Walker over how the budget vetoes were being handled, telling him he was “very disappointed in the way I’ve been treated” and “I won’t forget this.”
But he went a step further in the Sunday interview.
“For the individual rogue senators to say, ‘I’ve been involved in this process the entire time, but I’m going to put my foot down and I’m not going to vote for it unless I get that,’ that is wrong,” Vos said. “Frankly, I wish Governor Walker wouldn’t have negotiated with terrorists.”
Gousha followed up asking Vos if he was calling those senators terrorists.
“Yeah, that’s what they are,” Vos said. “Because you don’t hold somebody hostage for your own personal needs. You negotiate, you give and you take.”
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the comment was “beyond inappropriate” and called for Vos to apologize immediately.
“Negotiating vetoes is as much a part of the budget process as anything else, and the speaker’s comments demonstrate a weak grasp on the events that transpired in the hours before the budget was passed on the Senate floor,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.
Stroebel, one of the three Republicans Vos called a terrorist, said people expect more from their leaders than “these kind of personal attacks.”
“Brave men and women in uniform combat terrorists every day,” Stroebel said in a statement. “Terrorists use violence in an effort to destroy our American way-of-life. To imply fellow Republican legislators are terrorists is the type of hyperbolic rhetoric Wisconsinites are tired of hearing.”
Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said in a statement that, “It’s unacceptable the word was used to describe good public servants at a time when our men and women in uniform are fighting terrorism around the world.”
Nass and Kapenga did not immediately replied to requests for comment.
The deal the three senators struck with Walker resulted in him vetoing several parts of the budget they objected to. Some of the vetoes including making repeal of the state’s prevailing wage requirement take effect immediately rather than in a year, limiting days when school districts can seek referendum votes and doing away with a $2.5 million study on tolling.
Bad feelings from the budget negotiations between Republicans who control the Senate and Assembly were expected to hamper progress on a variety of bills pending before the Legislature this fall.
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