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Fight Over Oregon Climate Change Bill Erupts In Chaos After GOP Walks Out

Gov. Kate Brown (D) authorized the Oregon State Police to retrieve Republican lawmakers after they walked out to avoid voting on a climate bill.

Oregon State Senate Republicans staged a walkout Thursday to prevent voting on an expansive greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill. In response, Gov. Kate Brown (D) authorized the Oregon State Police to assist in returning the missing lawmakers to the Capitol. 

“People place their lives on the line to protect our democracy,” Brown said in a statement. “It’s a slap in the face of those sacrifices for the Senate Republicans to turn their back on respectful dialogue just because they don’t agree with others in the conversation.” 

Senate President Peter Courtney addresses a group of loggers and truckers outside the Oregon Capitol on June 12 in Salem, Ore
Senate President Peter Courtney addresses a group of loggers and truckers outside the Oregon Capitol on June 12 in Salem, Ore.

Democratic lawmakers hold a large enough majority in the state Senate to ensure the bill passes. But without the Republican lawmakers in attendance, the Senate lacked the necessary quorum to vote on it. 

“This is the saddest day of my legislative life,” state Sen. President Peter Courtney (D) said of the dispute. “Pure and simple, my heart is broken.”

One lawmaker, state Sen. Brian Boquist (R), issued a warning to Brown on Wednesday, suggesting he would use force to resist police efforts to retrieve him.

“Send bachelors and come heavily armed,” Boquist said. “I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.” 

Only two of the Republican senators are needed to reach a quorum.

“We are not going to provide a quorum to pass a progressive, liberal agenda that damages the constituents from our districts,” state Sen. Tim Knopp (R) told the Statesman Journal.

He indicated that he and his fellow lawmakers had left Oregon.

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