Republican senators continue their walkout to obstruct legislative work, despite discussions between the leadership of both parties last weekend. Their decision to boycott discussing difficult legislation insults every Oregonian. To fulfill their obligation, these lawmakers must return to governing the state without delay.
After years of watching Oregon’s congressional members from both parties refuse to work, voters approved the constitutional amendment to prevent politicians from choosing not to vote on proposed measures. This session’s walkout started on May 2, 2023. As a result, as of Tuesday, May 16, four senators — three Republicans and one Independent — violated their obligation to Oregonians. They each accrued 10 unexcused absences, eliminating them from the privilege of seeking re-election at the end of their current term.
It appears the division is over legislation Republican senators believe is unconstitutional. Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) released a statement on May 17 indicating they would return if their Democrat colleagues would “come to the table in good faith, abandon their uncompromising, unlawful, unconstitutional agenda. However, Sen. Knopp failed to disclose why they believed an unconstitutional plan existed.
Nonetheless, Knopp added the GOP has indicated they “are willing to pass substantially bipartisan budgets and bills that comply with the law.” However, Sen. Daniel Bonham (R-Dalles) told KGW8 News that he would not return because he intends to block HB2002, a bill focusing on abortion, gender-affirming care, and reproductive rights. He declared: “I’m more than happy to lose my job if I can stop [this bill] from happening.” He mistakenly claims the bill would allow children 13 and younger to access abortion services without parental consent.
Oregon Budget and Bills Langish as Senators Bicker
House Bill 2002 amends healthcare statutes and provides specifics about allowing anyone 15 and older access to some reproductive care without parental consent. However, it allows physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners to determine if the youth is emotionally mature enough to make such a decision. Notably, there is no mention of anyone under the age of 15 anywhere in the 46-page bill.
Senate President Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) said: “We have a stack of bipartisan bills lined up for second and third readings for votes on this floor.” However, the planned discussions over the past weekend failed to produce an agreement.
Senate Minority Leader Knoff said the Republican senators would end their protest if the Democrats quit using their slim majority to justify moving forward with their extreme agenda, which he calls unlawful and unconstitutional.
Sen. Wagner spoke of the bipartisan talks held last weekend. He expressed the importance of Republican senators ending their protest. He calls for them to return to work to pass bipartisan budgets and lawful bills to benefit all Oregonians.
Congressional Game Playing Hurts Everyone
Angry voters are protesting this game-playing between Democrat and Republican senators. They chanted, “Get Back To Work.” One of their signs, “Denial is not a policy,” speaks to legislators’ petty and potentially destructive walkout.
Sen. Wagner released the following statement on Tuesday: “I hope my Republican colleagues will remember their constitutional duty to come to work so we can resume doing the job the people of Oregon sent us here to accomplish.”
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Oregon Legislature: B-Engrossed House Bill 2002 (pdf)
KGW8 NBC News: ‘Violating the constitution’: Oregon’s GOP-led Senate walkout reaches 10th day, 3 senators now ineligible for reelection; by Evan Watson
KGW8 NBC News: Fourth Republican senator hits 10-day limit as Oregon walkout continues; by Evan Watson
Oregon State Legislature: Senate Press Releases
Featured and Top Image by Liam Edwards Courtesy of Unsplash
First Inset Image by Sgt. April Davis Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Brian Geraths Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License