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Senate President: Not enough votes for Oregon climate bill

The Oregon Senate President says there aren't enough votes within his own majority Democratic caucus to approve a landmark climate bill.

Posted: Jun 25, 2019 10:50 AM
Updated: Jun 25, 2019 3:09 PM

By SARAH ZIMMERMAN Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The president of the Oregon Senate said Tuesday there weren't enough votes in his majority Democratic caucus to approve a landmark climate bill that has sparked a walkout by Republicans and left other key issues such as the state budget in limbo.

Governor Brown's statement (issued on Tuesday) following Sen. Courtney's remarks

"Senate Republicans have blocked a bill that provides a better future for our state and for our children, and the tactics they employed to do so are not just unacceptable, but dangerous.

"This is not the Oregon Way and cannot be rewarded. The Republicans are driving us away from the values that Oregonians hold dear, and are moving us dangerously close to the self-serving stalemate in Washington, DC.

"It’s now up to Republicans to prove me wrong. Are they against climate change legislation or are they against democracy? If they are not back by Wednesday afternoon, we will know the answer."

The disclosure prompted young climate activists in the Senate chamber to turn their backs in protest against Sen. President Peter Courtney.

Meanwhile, all 11 Republican senators extended their walkout involving the issue for a sixth day, denying Democrats enough lawmakers to call a vote on the plan that calls for capping and trading pollution credits among companies.

Courtney acknowledged that the proposal faces an uncertain fate — even among Democrats. He pleaded with Republicans to return to the Capitol to consider dozens of other issues caught up in the impasse.

"This is about the 145 bills that we must pass," he said. "I've done as much as I can, and I'll continue to try. But this is a remarkable opportunity to finish our work."

Senate Republicans didn't immediately respond for a request to comment.

Dozens of young climate activists were in the audience as part of a larger protest against the GOP walkout. They flooded out of the Senate chamber and onto the Capitol steps, chanting "Peter Courtney's got to go" and "protect our future, not the polluters'."

"This is the biggest failure of public leadership in Oregon in recent memory," said Tera Hurst, executive director of Renew Oregon, the lobbying group behind Tuesday's climate protest. "He's allowed a minority of Senators to dictate how business is run in our government. This not only endangers this bill, but the future of our representative democracy."

Democratic senators spoke to hundreds of protesters who came to the capitol to protest the GOP walkout, saying that although Courtney's comments were disappointing, Democrats are still fighting for a path forward.

"The whole world is disappointed in Oregon," said Sen. Michael Dembrow, one of the key lawmakers behind the plan. "But the whole world can become proud of Oregon. We need to stand together."

Gov. Kate Brown has drawn a hard line on negotiations, saying she would only negotiate with Republicans if they return.

Brown said in a statement following Courtney's comments that Republicans' behavior "cannot be rewarded."

"The Republicans are driving us away from the values that Oregonians hold dear, and are moving us dangerously close to the self-serving stalemate in Washington, DC," she said.

Republicans are protesting what would be the nation's second statewide cap and trade program after California. The measure is intended to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases in Oregon by 2050 by capping carbon emissions and requiring businesses to buy or trade for an ever-dwindling pool of pollution "allowances."

Conservatives say the proposal will kill jobs, raise the cost of fuel and gut small businesses in rural areas.

Republicans' walkout drew scrutiny after a weekend that began with the Senate leader ordering the Capitol closed because of a "possible militia threat" from far-right groups, who threatened to join a peaceful protest organized by local Republicans.

One of those groups, the Oregon Three Percenters, joined an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 and has offered safe passage to senators on the run.

The threat, however, never materialized. Fewer than 100 people showed up to protest.

Legislators have yet to approve a majority of the state budget and other Democratic priorities addressing affordable housing, paid family leave and driver's licenses for immigrants in the country illegally. Courtney painstakingly described the work left to be done before the Legislative session is set to finish at the end of the week, saying it affects "every facet" of life in Oregon.

"Please, senators, come to this floor to pass these policies and pass these budgets," he said.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 132412

Reported Deaths: 1799
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28237458
Washington18512171
Marion16085238
Clackamas11577138
Lane8219108
Jackson686284
Umatilla670968
Deschutes490736
Yamhill316245
Malheur312452
Linn310246
Klamath242238
Polk241340
Josephine170633
Jefferson168725
Benton168414
Douglas166643
Union110416
Wasco106323
Columbia103318
Lincoln98517
Hood River94821
Coos93315
Morrow92710
Clatsop6695
Crook60410
Baker5665
Tillamook3622
Curry3185
Lake2295
Grant2131
Harney1734
Wallowa963
Gilliam481
Sherman470
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2955323

Reported Deaths: 33342
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles100392313741
San Bernardino2482851560
Riverside2352352517
San Diego2098972065
Orange2093652320
Santa Clara914661060
Kern83547558
Sacramento802791080
Fresno79950932
Alameda65679757
Ventura59061412
San Joaquin56484748
Contra Costa50627430
Stanislaus41925739
Tulare40176501
Monterey34959249
San Mateo31291294
San Francisco28574254
Imperial24944463
Solano24654105
Santa Barbara23538228
Merced23492296
Sonoma23204234
Kings18661110
Placer16761173
San Luis Obispo15129128
Madera12883130
Santa Cruz11776113
Marin11345153
Yolo10240131
Shasta9594117
Butte9233121
El Dorado751544
Sutter748477
Napa723139
Lassen509413
San Benito485043
Yuba481827
Tehama397142
Tuolumne330438
Nevada309973
Mendocino307631
Amador295329
Lake243428
Humboldt226324
Glenn182419
Colusa16919
Calaveras153823
Siskiyou140813
Mono10834
Inyo92429
Del Norte8472
Plumas5735
Modoc3783
Mariposa3434
Trinity3024
Alpine730
Sierra700
Unassigned00
Medford
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Brookings
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