Oregon walkout redux: State GOP leaves to prevent climate bill from advancing

Republican Senators in Oregon walked out of the State Capitol on Monday to prevent a vote on a bill aimed at stemming climate change, a similar action taken by GOP lawmakers last year that was followed by threats of having the state police forcibly returning them.

The walkout prompted Democratic Gov. Kate Brown to accuse the Republican lawmakers of “being against the Democratic process.” Democrats maintain a majority in both chambers of the state Legislative Assembly.

“If they don’t like a bill, then they need to show up and change it or show up and vote no. They should make their voices heard rather than shut down state government,” she said at a news conference.

Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon denounces a walkout by Republicans in the state Senate that prevented a quorum on Monday in Salem, Ore. Republican lawmakers are trying to doom a contentious climate change bill. Brown said the Republicans are not against the climate policy but are against the Democratic process. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)

Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon denounces a walkout by Republicans in the state Senate that prevented a quorum on Monday in Salem, Ore. Republican lawmakers are trying to doom a contentious climate change bill. Brown said the Republicans are not against the climate policy but are against the Democratic process. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)

Large trucks supporting the GOP lawmakers drove around the state Capitol in Salem blowing their horns. The bill is intended to lower greenhouse gas emissions, a major contributor to climate change.

It calls for the state to reduce emissions to at least 45 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2035 and by least 80 percent by 2050.

The bill would force big greenhouse gas emitters to obtain credits for each metric ton of carbon dioxide they emit. Opponents say fossil fuel companies will wind up offloading increased costs to customers. A proposal by Republicans to put the matter before voters in November failed Monday before it was sent to the Senate for a floor vote.

“Just give them the right to vote,” Republican state Sen. Fred Girod said.

In this Feb. 6, 2020 file photo, demonstrators protest against a cap-and-trade bill aimed at stemming global warming protest at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem. Republican lawmakers on Monda boycotted the Oregon Senate in an effort to deny Democrats a quorum and doom a contentious climate change bill. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)

In this Feb. 6, 2020 file photo, demonstrators protest against a cap-and-trade bill aimed at stemming global warming protest at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem. Republican lawmakers on Monda boycotted the Oregon Senate in an effort to deny Democrats a quorum and doom a contentious climate change bill. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)

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After the rejection, only 19 senators — all Democrats — remained on the floor, one shy of the minimum to proceed.

Monday's walkout was a repeat of last year when state GOP lawmakers refused to participate to implement a cap-and-trade program. Senate President Peter Courtney said he wouldn't involved the authorities this time.