Speaker Robin Vos' dereliction of duty

The Cap Times, Editorial


Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is an amiable character, and we have a hard time believing that he is so deliberately cruel and unreasonable as his actions suggest.
But the Racine County Republican did himself — and the chamber he leads — no favors last week when he failed to intervene on behalf of basic humanity and common sense.
As the Assembly was rushing to conclude this year’s deliberations, state Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, asked that the Assembly vote to support a state Senate resolution honoring the elementary school children and teachers who last year were killed in the horrific shooting spree at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Assembly Republicans were so busy trying to cross items off their ideological checklist that they did not want to pause to display a measure of memory and human kindness. So they voted 53-39 to reject Shankland’s request for consideration of the Sandy Hook resolution.
We understand that partisans can go awry, on both sides of the aisle. We don’t presume that the Assembly majority leader, or for that matter the Assembly minority leader, will step up to steer the chamber away from misguided and irresponsible actions. But the whole point of choosing an Assembly speaker is to have a legislative leader stand a little bit above the fray — and to bring reason to the deliberations. And it is especially important when a speaker has an opportunity to use his or her position, and the authority that goes with it, to prevent members of the speaker’s own party from shaming themselves.
Vos did not do that last week when the Sandy Hook issue arose.
He could easily have taken charge of the chamber and directed his fellow Republicans to join the Democrats in a proper response to Shankland’s motion.
His failure to do so was embarrassing — to Vos and to the chamber he is supposed to lead.
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