The Oregon State Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
Oregon Senate Republicans walked off the Senate floor on Thursday, denying the chamber of the quorum needed to do businesses.
This is the fourth time in the last three sessions the minority Senate Republicans have used the tactic. Notably, GOP lawmakers walked out in 2020 and 2019 to effectively kill a climate change bill. They’ve also used it as leverage to convince Democrats to give up on bills tightening the state’s gun control laws and vaccination requirements.
But this time it was a gesture of protest, according to a tweet by the Oregon Senate Republicans.
Specifically, the walkout was meant to show solidarity with students who want to go back into the classroom, seniors left out by the state’s rollout of the Covid vaccination and “working Oregonians who are struggling to make ends meet."
Democrats were not pleased. Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, issued a statement blasting the move.
“Senate Republicans continue to sabotage Oregon’s democracy and undermine the will of voters,” he said. “They have abdicated the oaths of office many of them took just weeks ago. They continue to accept pay, benefits and daily expenses from Oregon taxpayers all while completely obstructing the business before the Legislature – the people’s work.”
An exasperated Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said on the floor that he did not know the Republicans would stage the walkout. He said the chamber was scheduled to have second readings of five bills so votes could be held next week.
“They need to be here and do what they need to do to show their opposition on the floor and allow us to move forward,” he said.