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Wisconsin's Ron Johnson briefly ties up Senate in budget protest

June 28, 2011|By Kathleen Hennessey and James Oliphant

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson says he's fed up.

The freshman from Wisconsin, who knocked off progressive stalwart Russell Feingold in last year's election, said Tuesday that he would stage a procedural protest on the Senate floor until the Democratic leadership puts forth a 2012 budget.

“So unless we receive some assurance from the Democrat leadership that we will actually start addressing our budget out in the open, in the bright light of day, I will begin to object. I will begin to withhold my consent," Johnson, a businessman from Oskosh, Wis., said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“The Senate needs to pass a budget. It shouldn't be that difficult," he said.

By withholding his consent, Johnson can prevent routine procedures, such as quorum calls, from going forward, essentially paralyzing the floor. Democratic leaders late Tuesday used a procedure to force all senators to come to the floor to override, temporarily at least, Johnson's move and allow the Senate to move forward.

"I will definitely be back," Johnson said as the Senate adjourned for the day.

The Senate has a light workload this summer. Most of the action has happened behind closed doors in deficit talks.

That has GOP members frustrated, particularly those on the budget committee like Johnson, who have no budget to work on and feel they've been cut out of the process.

Johnson has been dogged by questions about $10 million in deferred compensation he received from his plastics company, Pacur, shortly after he was sworn in. Johnson had donated nearly $9 million to his Senate campaign.

Election watchdogs charged that it was an attempt to evade limits on corporate donations to campaigns.

"You take a look in terms of what would be a reasonable compensation package, OK?" Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel when asked about the arrangement. "It's a private business. I've complied with all the disclosure laws, and I don't have to explain it any further to someone like you."


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