OTR Interviews

Democratic Wis. Assembly Leader: I Will Vote for Governor's Budget Repair Bill If ...

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 23, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, he said only on one condition. There is one way Wisconsin's assembly minority leader, a Democrat, says he will vote for the governor's "budget repair" bill. So what is that condition? Wisconsin's assembly minority leader, Peter Barca, went "On the Record" and tells you himself.


VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's pretty wild, though, what's going on here.

ASSEMBLY MINORITY LEADER PETER BARCA, D-WIS.: It's historic. It's monumental. If you had dreamt it, you'd wake up and think that would never happen.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the 14 Democrats -- should they come home and vote?

BARCA: Well, the issue is this. In fact, it's very interesting that when we went to the floor last Friday, the Republicans tried to jam us. They tried to rush through the bill and not allow our amendments to come forward.

VAN SUSTEREN: Before 5:00 o'clock, right? They called it a little early?

BARCA: That's correct. They called it early, and they went forward with the process. And with an amendment pending, they moved for engrossment, which means you can't have any more amendments, and that's against the rules. They would not recognize members.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you slapped their hands for that. Republicans were bad to do that. That happened here in the assembly. But let me go across the way to the senate. Do you think those 14 senate Democrats, regardless of what happens here in the assembly -- should those senate democracies come back and vote?

BARCA: Well, that's -- their concern is the same as what they saw, experienced here in the assembly. They were afraid that they wouldn't get a fair shake. They felt very strongly that you shouldn't end 50 years of employee rights in six days. And they felt there should be more time for the process to unfold.

You know, a number of unprecedented things have happened around here in the last week, Greta. The joint finance committee, unprecedented before, stopped the hearing. Now, at 3:00 in the morning, they could have recessed until morning, but they stopped it with people who had driven 300 miles, scores of people waiting to testify. That's not the Wisconsin way. In Wisconsin, you wait until the last person has spoken and then you adjourn the hearing.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so...

BARCA: And they didn't do that. So they felt the process was corrupted and they felt they couldn't get a fair shake. And they wanted more time. They felt that the senate wouldn't give them that time, so that was part of their rationale. And we believe Governor Walker should end this chaos. He's the one person in this state that can step forward, show some leadership and help to end this.

VAN SUSTEREN: He told us that he would love to listen to the Democrats. And I said to him, Well, if the Democrats show up here, they're going to be forced into a vote. Would you take them on a phone call? And like, you know, there's -- I mean, there's -- everybody is a little dodgy, I think, on a lot of the issues. I mean, it's, like, both sides say they want to talk. Both sides say they want to follow rules. But I don't really get a strong sense that there isn't a lot of gaming being done by both sides.

BARCA: Well, all I can say is that, you know, from the assembly side, we went to the governor's office last Friday, prepared to meet. And the governor had told us at the beginning of the session that every week we're in session, he wanted to meet with the minority party. And he has done his level best to do that and we've had good, constructive meetings, I felt. This week, it didn't happen. And that's unfortunate.

VAN SUSTEREN: But you've got your -- you've got your...

BARCA: This is the week it should happen.

VAN SUSTEREN: But you've now got your situation resolved in the assembly, one way or the other. I mean, the problem really is in the Wisconsin state senate, with the 14 Democrats who aren't here. OK. All right. Looks -- are they coming back, by the way, you think, soon?

BARCA: Well, I don't know.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you heard from them?

BARCA: Yes, I did. I talked to Senator Miller this morning. We've been talking every day. And he indicated that they were going to watch very intently what happened in the assembly. Obviously, the assembly is now taking up the bill first. And I guess they're going to make a decision at the end of the day. It's a day-by-day decision, as I understand, for them.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you expect that it'll pass here in the assembly, don't you, with the numbers, the sheer numbers?

BARCA: That's what's magical about this process.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, really? You think...

BARCA: Is that -- is that we're still hoping that the Republican legislators will at least look at some of these amendments. And I would vote for passage if, in fact, they would amend it in a responsible manner. But they so far have not been willing to do that, but you never know.