Oregon politicians spar as walkout delays recovery funds for areas hit by flooding

The current gridlock in the legislature caused by a Republican walkout in defiance of cap-and-trade has left most of an $11 million recovery package in limbo.

Posted: Feb 26, 2020 11:59 AM
Updated: Feb 26, 2020 5:07 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Recovery funding for areas of northeastern Oregon hit hard by flooding earlier this month has now become a charged political issue as it languishes in the gridlocked state legislature.

Republican lawmakers shunned the capitol this week to deny a vote on the divisive cap-and-trade bill, but the act of protest has likewise ground all other legislative business to a halt.

Among the bills now stalled in the legislature is an $11.65 million recovery funding proposal for the Umatilla Basin as people continue to sift through the aftermath of widespread flooding.

On Wednesday, Governor Kate Brown announced that the state had secured a $1.8 million loan for the town of Pendleton in lieu of the funding package — a "no-interest, no-payment, medium-term loan" borrowed from Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency.

"This levee funding is a stopgap measure to make sure that residents in the Umatilla Basin don't have to worry that the coming spring will add insult to injury," said Governor Brown.


RELATED: Oregon House Republicans join senators in boycotting the legislature


The Governor's office said that this contribution was the only part of the more than $11 million funding package that could be eligible for a short-term loan, saying that everything else would require approval from lawmakers.

Governor Brown took a swipe at Republicans over the funding, saying that they had walked away from their jobs and from the needs of the Umatilla Basin community.

"When legislators deny quorum and shut down government, it puts critical state funding in jeopardy — and not just for flooding relief. This is important work; Oregonians are counting on us," Brown said.

Republicans were quick to fire back, accusing Brown of "backtracking" from previous statements that she could not send recovery funding to the Umatilla Basin without legislative approval.

“I’m not sure why the Governor withheld this funding for two weeks. But no matter what the politics are in the building, it’s the right thing to do,” said Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, R-Grants Pass.

Funds to pay off the loan to Pendleton will have to be approved by lawmakers when they return to conducting business.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 133851

Reported Deaths: 1803
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28467459
Washington18734171
Marion16247239
Clackamas11698138
Lane8353109
Jackson693085
Umatilla679368
Deschutes499936
Yamhill319045
Malheur313552
Linn311646
Polk245540
Klamath242838
Josephine174333
Benton170514
Jefferson170525
Douglas168743
Union111416
Wasco108123
Columbia104918
Lincoln99617
Hood River95421
Coos93815
Morrow93810
Clatsop6865
Crook62110
Baker5685
Tillamook3652
Curry3245
Lake2305
Grant2131
Harney1754
Wallowa963
Gilliam511
Sherman470
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

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Cases: 3015644

Reported Deaths: 33724
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San Bernardino2540941560
Riverside2422062517
Orange2123892367
San Diego2117872103
Santa Clara935571076
Kern85362565
Fresno82039932
Sacramento801541080
Alameda67375764
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Contra Costa52146449
Stanislaus42548749
Tulare41016501
Monterey35418250
San Mateo32186294
San Francisco29139262
Imperial25253463
Solano25216105
Santa Barbara24481231
Sonoma23871240
Merced23800296
Kings19254133
Placer17194173
San Luis Obispo15658128
Madera13328130
Santa Cruz12196113
Marin11569154
Yolo10519131
Shasta9594117
Butte9411121
El Dorado765944
Sutter760477
Napa752139
Lassen509413
San Benito494143
Yuba481827
Tehama397142
Tuolumne330438
Nevada317673
Mendocino311432
Amador300129
Lake257228
Humboldt232224
Glenn192419
Colusa16919
Calaveras160823
Siskiyou140813
Mono10914
Inyo92429
Del Norte8572
Plumas5735
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Trinity3024
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