Republicans just bullied the Oregon Democratic supermajority into submission with absurd standoff

While Joe Biden and other centrists keep inexplicably pushing for the Democrats to compromise with conservatives, an infuriating and absurd situation is playing out in Oregon that perfectly illustrates the modern Republican approach to politics and why Democrats shouldn’t be engaging with them in any kind of good faith whatsoever.

The Oregon state Senate was all set to vote on a landmark climate change bill last week that would install a cap-and-trade carbon emissions system to help fight pollution. Instead of showing up and doing their jobs, Republican Senators instead chose to flee the state, petulantly taking their toys and running away with their tails between their legs.

The governor was forced to dispatch the police to attempt to round them up, threats of violence were made by the wayward senators, and armed domestic terror groups got involved but did not make good on their own violent threats.

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The Republicans escaped and have refused to come back — and after just five days, Democrats appear to have thrown in the towel.

“House Bill 2020 does not have the votes on the Senate floor. That will not change” announced Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney on Tuesday, implying that the vote no longer had enough Democratic votes to pass.

However, the fact that he immediately moved on to list a host of other bipartisan bills that Republicans might be interested in working on and begged them to come back indicates that this might not be the case. “This is a remarkable opportunity to finish our work. Please, senators, come to this floor” said Courtney.

Environmental activists are furiously calling his bluff.

“That is in direct contradiction to what 16 Senators told their constituents to their faces in recent days. Instead of having the Senate vote on the floor and stand up to the public, the Senate President is allowing members to hide behind a contradictory statement” complained Tera Hurst, the executive director of the group Renew Oregon, to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

All signs appear to indicate that the Democratic Senate president is sacrificing the climate bill in order to get Republicans back so they can race through the rest of their agenda before the legislative session ends on the 30th — but it’s not even likely to happen either, considering the Republicans suspect that the entire thing is a ruse to lure them back to the state house.

“We need clarification. What does that mean? Does it mean it’s dead until the 2020 session? Is the governor going to take it up in a special session? We are out of time to fix this bill for the 2019 legislative session. So, if there was a commitment that it won’t come up again until at least the 2020 session it’s a step in the right direction to end this political protest” said Republican Senator Tim Kopp.

This kind of atrocious behavior from Oregonian Republicans mirrors the brinkmanship tactics that the Republicans in Congress have been using for years, and the success of this undemocratic boycott is going to ensure that similar tantrums will be thrown by Republican state legislators across the country whenever they are presented with bills they don’t like.

The Republican Party ruthlessly rams through legislation whenever it is in power, disregarding every norm and violating every protocol in the name of their nihilistic crusade to imposing a radical right-wing agenda on a disgusted nation. It is beyond depressing to see Democrats in a similar position of power submitting to these legislative terrorists, especially on what Earther described as “one of the strongest climate laws in the nation.”

A few hours after Courtney made his announcement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a bill that would have improved election security and fought foreign election interference. From Oregon to Washington, the GOP has made it clear they have no respect for our democracy and have been entirely consumed by their lust for power; sadly, the Democrats appear to be entirely unequipped to deal with this kind of behavior — with terrifying consequences for both our nation’s future and the world’s ability to sustain human civilization as we know it.

Original reporting by Dirk VanderHart at OPB.

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Colin Taylor

Managing Editor

Colin Taylor is the managing editor of the Washington Press. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice, equality, and universal health care in America.


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