Republicans are doing their best to make my blood boil. (So far, figuratively.)
Nationally, House Republicans seem determined to make their demands so extreme to raise the debt ceiling that the federal government will be unable to pay all of its bills soon, creating a financial catastrophe.
Here in Oregon, the walkout of Senate Republicans entered its 15th day. And they just announced that they'll keep on not doing the job they were elected to do all the way to the last day of the current legislative session, June 25.
A story in the Oregon Capital Chronicle describes their unreasonable demand, and the totally appropriate response of the Democratic Senate President, Rob Wagner.
Oregon Senate Republicans on Tuesday declared they’re willing to return to the floor to pass bipartisan legislation and budget bills on June 25, the final day of the session.
Senators continued to participate in the GOP-led walkout on Tuesday, boycotting the floor session for the 15th day and preventing the Senate from reaching the two-thirds quorum needed to conduct business.
...Republicans object to a few bills they want killed. These include House Bill 2002, a bill expanding abortion rights and access to transgender health care, and House Bill 2005, which deals with firearms and raises the minimum age for most gun purchases from 18 to 21 years old and allows local agencies to ban firearms in government-owned property.
Knopp’s statement came out as Wagner was on the Senate floor.
“We’re here to do the people’s work,” Wagner told reporters afterwards. “All the bills should be considered. This is our democracy. People need to show up to the floor, and if they object to legislation, then come tell the voters, tell your citizens, tell your constituents. Really, the place to have that debate is on the floor.”
Wagner said Democrats have no interest in changing House bills 2002 or 2005.
Democrats get to decide what bills are considered by the Senate. They should hang tough on not giving in to Republican hostage-taking, the hostage being a budget for state government and bills that are Democratic priorities.
Senate Republicans are acting like a toddler who refuses to eat their dinner, but demands dessert. (Ah, I remember those days well when my daughter was young.)
No, Republicans, you don't get to pick and choose what bills you want to vote on. Oregonians have made Democratic legislators a majority in both the House and Senate. If the GOP wants to enjoy that power, win more elections.
It's that simple. All the crying and wailing about Democrats running roughshod over the poor Republican minority runs counter to how democracy works: majority rule.
But since Oregon Republicans aren't able to convince voters to put them in charge of this state, they're choosing to give democracy their middle finger by walking out of the Senate in a hissy-fit. Every parent learns that child temper tantrums can't be rewarded.
Same applies to adult temper tantrums in the Oregon legislature.
Oregon law allows state troopers to track down legislators who walk away from their constitutional duty. So far, Governor Kotek hasn't done this. I think she should, if possible. All that is needed is to bring a few Senate Republicans back to have a quorum.
Another approach is to keep scheduling special sessions of the legislature if the GOP walkout extends past the statutory deadline of June 25 for the regular legislative session. Eventually enough Senate Republicans will return to vote on a must-pass bill, a budget to fund state government.
Here's another excerpt from the Oregon Capital Chronicle story.
If the walkout continues to June 25 and the session ends, Kotek could call lawmakers back in a special session to pass a budget. The current budget ends June 30, but state agencies can continue operating without any disruptions through Sept. 15 because of a continuing resolution that keeps the current levels of funding in place if a budget isn’t set yet.
So when September arrives, Kotek could schedule a special session. When a sufficient number of Republicans in both the House and Senate produce a quorum, state troopers should be ordered to lock the doors of the Capitol.
Bring in cots, blankets, and food. I'll be glad to contribute to a pizza fund. Force Republicans to remain in the Capitol, along with Democratic legislators, until all of the bills that are Democratic priorities have bene voted on.
Hardball? Absolutely. Legal? I'm not sure. But I sure like the idea. When Republicans are in power in red states, they ram through conservative bills with no concern for Democratic feelings. Turnabout is fair play here in Oregon.
Give Republicans exactly zero rewards for their walkout. Make the walkout as painful as possible for the GOP. This is what Republicans would do if they were in power in our state. It's what Democrats should do given that voters have put them in charge of Oregon.