Republican leaders in the state Senate are calling on Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to apologize, after he called members of the GOP caucus “terrorists” for their actions during the state budget battle earlier this year.
Vos made his comments during an appearance Sunday on UpFront with Mike Gousha on WISN-TV. The Rochester Republican has previously been critical of three GOP state Senators – Duey Stroebel, Steve Nass, and Chris Kapenga – for holding up passage of the overdue state budget until they received veto assurances from Governor Scott Walker.
Vos told Gousha that he wished the governor had not “negotiated with terrorists.” Pressed to defend the remarks, he argued that the description was accurate because “you don’t hold somebody hostage for your own personal needs.”
The speaker’s comments prompted sharp responses from the lawmakers they were aimed at, along with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau). Stroebel called it “the type of hyperbolic rhetoric Wisconsinites are tired of hearing,” while Nass said it was “beyond outrageous” to label lawmakers that way.
In a statement, Fitzgerald said comparing three sitting lawmakers to terrorists was “beyond inappropriate” and he called on Speaker 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. “I am proud of the senate Republican caucus for sticking to its principles and delivering a document that prioritized tax relief and education funding, while keeping Wisconsin on sound financial footing heading into the next biennium.”
A message seeking comment from Speaker Vos was not immediately returned.