House Republicans Walk Out in Oregon Too; Senate Minority Leader Gives Fiery Update
A day after the Senate Republicans denied quorum over Oregon's cap-and-trade bill and vacated Salem on Tuesday. House Republicans followed suit. In addition, Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr. (R-Grants Pass) held a conference call to update reporters.
House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) made this statement in announcing that House Republicans would also deny quorum, halting business completely in Salem:
From the first day of this short session it has been clear that Governor Brown and the majority party have not had an interest in respecting the legislative process and have repeatedly refused to compromise. Each and every amendment we offered on Cap and Trade in committee has been rejected. I had remained optimistic up until yesterday that a compromise could be reached. Unfortunately, our attempts to achieve a bipartisan consensus that would take into account the views of all Oregonians were denied. Oregon House Republicans are taking a stand, with working families, in opposing Cap and Trade and this rigged process. We will continue to keep all lines of communication open.I call on Governor Brown and the majority party to refer Cap and Trade to the people.
She also released a quick Facebook video:
Later the same day, Baertschiger held a fiery press conference in which he expressed anger at the governor and legislative leadership for what he described as the Democrats playing politics with the lives of flood victims in Eastern Oregon. Legislation is pending to provide state relief after a major flood in Pendleton and Umatilla earlier this year.
I sent President Courtney a letter early on in the session to get all that work done. They decided to play politics. They knew that this cap and trade would come to a head, but yet they did not bring all this legislation forward earlier so that we could get it all passed before we had a meltdown. This is all planned by them. And what really saddens me is the Governor using flood victims for leverage for cap and trade. She right now has discretionary funds that she could fund those people that lost their houses. Yet the Governor of Oregon is playing politics with people that don't have a place to sleep tonight. I think that is disgusting, and that is not being a governor.
Baertschiger also pointed out that Senate President Peter Courtney was forced to manipulate rules just to get the bill out of the Ways and Means Committee, saying,
We secured enough no votes in the Ways and Means committee to kill it there. We thought it would die there. I think it doesn't meet the intent of the senate rules. It's a way of rigging the vote. I think Oregonians are seeing that.
In the press conference, Baertschiger reported that all but one Republican senator has left the state, but they are prepared to return to the capitol to finish the legislative session if Democratic leadership allows the cap-and-trade bill to be referred to a vote of the people on the November ballot. So far, Governor Kate Brown (D-Portland) and Democratic leadership have signaled no desire to allow that to happen.
Brown tweeted on Monday:
Of course, Kate Brown led a similar walkout in 2001 over a disagreement about redistricting when she served in the House of Representatives:
Senate Democratic Leader Kate Brown, D-Portland, called the House Democrats’ actions “very appropriate under the circumstances.”
“Under certain circumstances, it’s fair to say we would use all tools available to us, and stage a similar boycott,” she said.
AP, June 25, 2001
Rep. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) said something similar at the time:
The stalemate, he said “is a little frustrating for me” and “isn’t what I signed up for.” But he added that the Democratic walkout made a point about preserving the minority’s voting rights, which Democrats think may be compromised by the Republican redistricting plan.
“I don’t think,” Hass said, “standing up for fairness and protecting the constitution is something we need to hide from.”
Rep. Mark Hass to The Oregonian, June 28, 2001
A day into the denial of quorum walkout, tensions have risen, and there appears no end in sight.
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, "Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy," available now at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.