As a number of Oregon Republican lawmakers hid out in Idaho to avoid a climate change vote for a sixth day yesterday, Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, told the Washington Post he’d stayed on the move — four states in four days — before finally hunkering down in an undisclosed location. "I'm in a cabin by a lake in Idaho," he said. "I've arrived in free America."
You can read the Post’s full story online here, which recounts how the fugitive lawmakers said they were wary of a trick after Democrats said they didn’t have the votes to pass the climate bill in the Senate after all.
Even before this recent partisan clash, the Republicans found ways to thwart the Democrats, the Post reports. In the House, they began refusing to waive a constitutional requirement that each bill be read aloud, in its entirety, on the floor. Some bills are dozens of pages long, and a reading can take hours. This created such a backlog that the House still has a stack of bills it must consider with only a few days left in the session.
“With the walkout, we’ve taken parliamentary procedure and thrown it out the window,” said Jim Moore, a political science professor at Pacific University who studies Oregon politics.
Democrats outnumber Republicans 18 to 11 in the Oregon Senate. They need 16 votes to pass the climate bill.
In a television interview, Sen. Brian Boquist strongly implied that he would violently resist arrest if state troopers tried to bring him back to the statehouse: “Send bachelors and come heavily armed,” he said.
The Post also reported that it would take 24 to 36 hours for the Republicans to reassemble in Salem if they did decide to return, as some have driven 10 or 15 hours from the state capital, and one member is on the East Coast.
Meanwhile, here's the latest AP report from Oregon at mid-day today, which reports that the standoff was continuing:
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Republicans in the Oregon state Senate have now been off the job for one week.
All 11 senators were again missing Wednesday as they aim to block a vote on an emissions-lowering climate proposal. That's despite assurances from the Senate President on Tuesday that the measure doesn't have support even among Democrats.
Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger said Republicans are "sorting out" what to do next in wake of the president's announcement.
The legislative session is set to end Sunday. Gov. Kate Brown says she's prepared to call a special session next week. But the over 100 bills currently in limbo because of the impasse would need to be reintroduced.