Oregon GOP State Senators Flee To Halt Vote On Climate Change Legislation
Oregon’s Republican state senators fled the state capitol building in Salem, Oregon Monday ahead of an impending floor vote on a Democratic climate bill that would seek to greatly reduce statewide greenhouse emission. They hid so well that the Senate chamber’s Sergeant-At-Arms failed to find them.
The GOP lawmakers left the Senate with 19 members on the floor – just one shy of the 20 quorum needed to hold a vote on the bill. The move threatened to derail a wide-range of similar bills in the final two weeks of the state’s 35-day legislative session.
The climate bill had been the main subject of the session.
Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Oregon) called on the representatives to return to work, claiming that the bill had sufficient votes to pass in a Democratic-controlled Senate chamber.
“I implore my fellow senators to please return to this chamber,” Courtney stated.
When Courtney announced that there were not enough people to continue the hearing, some applauded, and others took to more drastic matters, including the blaring of truck horns.
The Oregon Constitution mandates that two-thirds of senators be present before the ballot is cast on legislative matters. Democrats hold 18 or the 30 seats, which means that they only needed to coax two Republicans back to pass the climate bill.
The Republican lawmaker’s efforts to avoid a floor session parallel a similar move last year when the GOP senators departed from the stare and sought refuge in Idaho cabins to thwart Democratic efforts to pass another climate bill.
Last year’s efforts concluded after a threatened police round-up. The protest ended when Democratic leaders acknowledged that it did not have enough support to pass the bill.
The Democrats went ballistic over the GOP’s stunt.
Gov. Kate Brown (D-Oregon) called on the GOP senators to show up to “make their voices heard rather than shut down state government.” She called the entire event “undemocratic” and proceeded to accuse the Republican lawmakers of “being against the democratic process.”
“If they don’t like a bill, then they need to show up and change it or show up and vote no. They should make their voices heard rather than shut down state government,” Brown continued.