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MADISON, WI -- The threatened wave of layoffs of public employees -- which Republican Gov. Scott Walker has said will occur if his budget bill does not pass with its anti-public employee union provisions -- is now hitting home with a top Republican leader. As the Associated Press reports, the wife of state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has now received a preliminary layoff notice.

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1||February 23, 2011: As people continue to flood the Wisconsin State Capitol to protest Gov. Scott Walker's (R) proposal to ban collective bargaining for most of the state's public employees, rallies in support of Wisconsin unions are now being organized across the country. Pro-union demonstrations have been held over the past few days in Boston, Indianapolis, Denver, Columbus, and Washington D.C.

On Tuesday, people in Ohio protested a similar measure proposed by Gov. John Kasich (R) that would roll back public employee union rights. ||Mike Elicson/via SEIU&&

2||In Denver, a man showed support for the Wisconsin protesters. ||

3||Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) spoke to a rally held in front of the State House on Tuesday. ||

4||In neighboring Minnesota, people rallied inside the capitol building in St. Paul on Wednesday. ||m42/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

5||The SEIU staged a large protest in D.C. on Wednesday. ||David Sachs / SEIU&&

6||A firefighter protested against SB5 in Ohio, a bill that would strip some collective bargaining rights from unions in that state.||Mike Elicson/ via SEIU&&

7||Demonstrators gathered outside the Colorado State Capitol Building in Denver on Tuesday.||

8||A pro-union sign displayed in

9||Thousands of people protested SB5 in Ohio. ||Mike Elicson/ via SEIU&&

10||Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (D) spoke to the crowd in Columbus.||Mike Elicson/ via SEIU&&

11||||Mike Elicson/ via SEIU&&

12||Dan Rihm, a firefighter from the Springfield, Ohio area rallied demonstrators in Columbus. ||Mike Elicson/ via SEIU&&

13||A man in Denver held a sign linking the union rallies to uprisings in the Middle East. ||


15||An SEIU member addressed the crowd in Ohio on Tuesday. ||Mike Elicson/ via SEIU&&

16||A woman in Ohio held a sign criticizing Gov. Kasich. ||Mike Elicson/ via SEIU&&

17||SEIU members marched in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. ||David Sachs/ SEIU&&

18||||David Sachs/ SEIU&&

19||Demonstrators in D.C. showed support for the Wisconsin unions. ||

20||A man addressed the D.C. rally.||David Sachs/ SEIU&&

21||||David Sachs/ SEIU&&

22||||Mike Elicson/ via SEIU&&

23||||Mike Elicson/ via SEIU&&

24||Mike Elicson/ via SEIU&&

25||Protesters gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse on Tuesday. ||KARL KUNTZ/MCT/Newscom&&

26||In Boston, demonstrators gathered at the Massachusetts State House to show solidarity with the Wisconsin workers.||






32||Many of those rallying in Boston signed a symbolic statement in support of Wisconsin public employee unions. ||

With the looming prospect of a government shutdown growing larger every day, two recent polls show that Americans overwhelmingly want Congress and Obama to reach a budget deal before the March 4 deadline.

According to a Gallup poll, six in ten Americans would rather see a compromise than see Senators who represent their interests hold out for a sweeter deal, even if it leads to a government shutdown. And in a PPP poll released earlier this week, 62% said they thought a government shutdown would be bad for the country, while only 26% said it would be a good thing.

If a federal budget isn't passed by the March 4 deadline, the government will cease all non-essential spending until a budget is be passed.

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MADISON, WI -- The Wisconsin state Senate has just recessed, after the 19 Republicans "debated" and voted on amendments to a strict Voter ID bill, while the Democrats who fled the state in order to stop a budget quorum for Governor Scott Walker's anti-public employee union proposals remain in hiding in Illinois.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) may have more than his own embarrassment to deal with in the wake of the prank call from from a progressive blogger claiming to be David Koch.

The police chief in Madison, Wisc. -- site of the protests at the state Capitol -- tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel the he found parts of the recorded call between Walker and "Koch" "very unsettling and troubling."

Specifically, Chief Noble Wray says that Walker's claim that he considered sending infiltrators into the crowd (prompted by a suggestion by "Koch," played by blogger Ian Murphy) made him nervous.

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Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) defended Nevada's legal prostitution industry on Wednesday -- putting him at odds with Sen. Harry Reid's (D-NV) call this week to end the brothel business.

"You know, that's a county by county issue and I think and it should be left to the counties," Ensign told local station after a town hall meeting.

On Tuesday, Reid delivered a speech to the Nevada legislature in which he declared "the time has come for us to outlaw prostitution." Many state lawmakers defended the current brothel system after and it's unclear whether Reid's position has enough support to move forward. Governor Brian Sandoval (R) has said the issue should be left to the counties as well.

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Steve Israel promised to take on Congressional Republicans over their push to tighten abortion laws. Now, the DCCC chair is making good on that pledge.

With the 2012 elections well over a year away, Democrats are already up with paid advertising aimed at five Republican members of Congress they hope to defeat in 2012. The program is part of a larger targeted web, radio and email ad program taking on 19 Republicans Democrats say are vulnerable next year.

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Life was more fun for Republicans when they could vote "no" on job-creating bills like the stimulus, then go to ribbon-cutting ceremonies for stimulus projects in their districts.

Now that they're voting "yes" on bills that will slash, delay or eliminate those projects, life's pretty rough.

Check out, for instance, this interview with freshman Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL), who's tied in knots over his recent vote to kill a transportation project in his district. Specifically, he voted for the House spending legislation, which would eliminate a $230 million federal grant to build an Amtrak line from Chicago to Iowa City, if it goes into effect.

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