Sen. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar, gave an impassioned speech to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee on Monday, during which a Republican senator stepped in and warned his comments were bordering on inappropriate.
Jauch was one of just two Democratic lawmakers present as the JFC debated a bill that would require Wisconsin residents to show photo identification when they vote. Two of the panel’s four Democrats — Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, and Rep. Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee — were absent because of a scheduling conflict.
The JFC passed the photo ID bill along party lines, 12-2, sending it to the Assembly, which is expected to vote on it this week. Before the bill passed, though, Jauch launched everything in his rhetorical toolbox at Republicans who support the bill.
Jauch, who spoke of his military service in Vietnam, told his Republican colleagues: “You bring shame to my service. You bring dishonor to what I did in protecting the rights of citizens.”
Arguing the bill would disenfranchise voters, Jauch continued, “I can’t distinguish the Soviet Union from Madison, Wis.”
As Jauch began comparing Wisconsin’s present leadership to powerful men in the past who prevented minorities from voting, Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, warned Jauch he was out of line in calling Republicans racist. Jauch responded that he wasn’t saying they were racist.
Jauch, though, certainly called Republicans every other kind of bad word he could think of.
The senator also reserved some scorn for protesters who interrupted the JFC meeting. Once order was restored, Jauch said the protesters brought shame to responsible and informed citizens who oppose the photo ID bill.
“I don’t condone that sort of behavior, because it unfortunately makes everybody else in this room who’s been so respectful and civil look bad,” Jauch said. “I find their behavior indefensible.”
Jauch then quickly resumed blasting Republicans.
“I find the behavior of the people perpetrating this bill indefensible,” Jauch said, adding, “We are harming Democracy when there are hurdles placed on legitimate voters who wish to participate in this process we were all elected by. And I’m appalled we’re at this point.”