- Oregon’s Republican senators have yet to return to the statehouse after they fled the capitol last week.
- The 11 senators bolted from Salem to prevent passage of a climate change bill intended to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
- More than 100 bills, including Republican-sponsored measures, face the risk of being shelved if a deal isn’t made before the legislative session ends on Sunday.
- Republicans announced Friday they would return on Saturday.
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It’s been more than a week since Oregon’s Republican senators fled the capitol in Salem to prevent passage of climate change legislation. And with the last day of the legislative session quickly approaching, they have yet to return to the floor.
The bizarre saga first unfolded last week, when the 11 GOP senators walked out of the statehouse and apparently bolted from Oregon. While Democrats have a supermajority in the state legislature, they need 20 people on the floor for a necessary quorum to vote on what would have been a landmark bill aimed at significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Following the walk-out, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown deployed state police to recoup the lawmakers. But many fled the state, keeping them outside of police jurisdiction.
Over the weekend, members of the Three Percenters of Oregon, the militia group involved with the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover in 2016, announced that they were more than willing to provide security for the senators.
“All of the Oregon Three Percenters resources are being directed to the protection of the senators at this point,” a source previously told INSIDER, adding that upwards of 600 people were expected to mobilize last weekend for those efforts.
Time runs out on Sunday
Brown told The Associated Press earlier this week that she refuses to negotiate with Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger until he returns to Salem – or at least the state. Baertschiger was, as of Thursday, in talks with Brown and the senate’s top Democrat, Peter Courtney, according to The Oregonian.
But even after Courtney declared the climate bill to be effectively dead because it lacked Democratic votes, the two sides are at an impasse.
With the last day of the session scheduled for this Sunday, and the Republican senators still missing, more than 100 bills – including Republican-sponsored measures – faced the risk of being shelved. During a Friday morning GOP press conference, Baertschiger, back in Salem, said the climate change bill is dead, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
While the other 10 Republican Senators have yet to come back to the capitol, he anticipates they will return to work on Saturday.
“I hope we can get done with it by midnight Sunday,” Baertschiger told Oregon Public Broadcasting, while describing the bills that remain under consideration in the session. “It’s going to be an interesting weekend, isn’t it?”
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