It looks like Oregon Republicans and their white supremacist terrorist allies have won, as terrified Oregon Democrats are apparently now folding on the climate change cap and trade bill that set off this mess in the first place.
Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney said on Tuesday morning that the climate change bill at the center of Republicans’ walkout lacks the votes necessary to pass, because not enough Democrats support it.
"House Bill 2020 does not have the votes on the Senate floor,” Courtney, D-Salem, said after Democrats assembled on the floor Tuesday. “That will not change.” He then ticked off a lengthy list of pending policy and budget bills that he said have bipartisan support.
Senate Republicans fled the state last week to block a vote on the carbon capping plan. Courtney appeared to be laying groundwork for Republicans to return, but it was not immediately clear that Republicans would agree to return to vote on other bills. Oregon lawmakers face a June 30 deadline to wrap up work under the state Constitution.
Sen. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, said as of around 10 a.m., he had not yet heard of Courtney’s announcement. However, he said there would be a lot of concern about a possible head fake by Democrats, and a variety of procedural issues that would have to be addressed before Republicans would likely agree to come back to the Capitol.
Democrats also took time to react to Courtney’s statement Tuesday. Two hours after Courtney’s statement, Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement in which she appeared to acknowledge the bill was dead.
“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,” Brown said, adding that Republicans were “moving us dangerously close to the self-serving stalemate in Washington, DC.”
“It’s now up to Republicans to prove me wrong," Brown said. "Are they against climate change legislation or are they against democracy? If they are not back by Wednesday afternoon, we will know the answer.”
Brown declared on Monday that she would not negotiate with Republicans until they returned to Oregon.
House Speaker Tina Kotek, of Portland, weighed in on Twitter just before noon Tuesday, saying of Courtney’s statement that the climate bill was dead, “I believe him.”
“This has been a dark week for the integrity of the Legislature,” Kotek wrote. “Senate Rs have been threatening our democratic institution and subverting the will of Oregon voters who know we need to act now. Their walkout has come at immense cost to our institution and potentially the planet.”
It's entirely possible that this is a fakeout to trick Republicans into showing back up and then getting steamrolled. If so, it's both ballsy and stupid, but it might just work.
But if it's not a fakeout, then Republicans just proved political terrorism and threatening violence against Democrats works. Expect Republicans in other blue states to start reacting to Democratic legislation in the same way.
If Republicans realize that they can use the open threat of violence and the repressive power of government to keep Democrats from ever passing any legislation at all, even in states where Democrats have a supermajority plus the Governor's office as with Oregon, then we've lost our small-d democracy, representative or otherwise, permanently.
There's plenty of evidence that the problem here is personal and not systemic, and that Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney has completely lost control of the chamber and that Oregon Senate Republicans are taking full advantage.
But why should Oregon Republicans not pull this stunt every time the Democrats want to pass a bill? They're already playing the victim card here, saying that being linked to domestic terrorists like the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers in the state is an insult so grave that it means they'll never return, and never allow another vote.
So what happens if one party is willing to break a functioning government beyond repair? What is the other party prepared to do in order to restore that government?
We've asked this question before in the past, and the answer has never been without a great cost to the country.