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: 397421

Reported Deaths: 5299
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah61160856
Washington42725408
Marion40378520
Clackamas33323391
Lane30531364
Jackson25267363
Deschutes24034198
Umatilla15178184
Linn15004184
Douglas13635295
Josephine10388249
Yamhill9916145
Klamath9144153
Polk8384103
Benton624440
Malheur594093
Coos5854109
Columbia442156
Jefferson427268
Lincoln369155
Crook345558
Union341857
Wasco320747
Clatsop265835
Baker223133
Tillamook220646
Hood River218637
Morrow198925
Curry194639
Harney121933
Grant109216
Lake106418
Wallowa76513
Sherman1953
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1161
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5128725

Reported Deaths: 74953
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153845127262
San Diego4104514351
Riverside3912955388
San Bernardino3784085998
Orange3370455783
Sacramento1699162462
Kern1590231841
Fresno1581872284
Santa Clara1536961933
Alameda1262241514
San Joaquin1084911837
Ventura1049251194
Contra Costa1046451058
Stanislaus923321436
Tulare869791102
San Francisco57458674
San Mateo56861631
Monterey52973626
Solano48014360
Santa Barbara47846555
Merced45506672
Sonoma43609414
Placer42736473
Imperial39148778
Kings35547369
San Luis Obispo31803360
Madera26511315
Shasta26353465
Butte25690320
Santa Cruz22540224
Yolo21792263
Marin18728249
El Dorado18544168
Sutter14691186
Napa13501107
Yuba1084791
Humboldt10360119
Tehama10329133
Nevada10187105
Mendocino873799
Lassen801259
San Benito793980
Tuolumne782691
Lake7073113
Amador583267
Siskiyou480757
Glenn460336
Calaveras449988
Del Norte380442
Colusa329821
Inyo259446
Plumas19679
Mono19274
Mariposa163818
Trinity102117
Modoc7956
Unassigned3820
Sierra2210
Alpine1080
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