Lawmakers were again a no-show at the state house to block the passage of landmark climate legislation
Members of rightwing patriot movement groups have vowed to protect Republican senators in Oregon who have walked out of the state legislature in order to try and block the passage of climate legislation.
The move by the state senators some of whom are believed to have fled to neighboring Idaho was aimed at denying Democrats a quorum for passing landmark climate legislation. The proposed new Oregon law resembles Californias sweeping new cap and trade legislation.
After Oregons governor authorized state police to bring the 11 Republican senators back to the state house rightwing groups have said they will rally to their defense raising the prospect of a potentially dangerous confrontation.
Figures aligned with the patriot movement group of organizations offered assistance to the rogue senators, though it was not immediately clear if this cooperation was welcomed by them.
On Facebook, Paul Luhrs, who claimed to be the Linn County lead for the Oregon III%, a patriot movement group, announced that the organization has vowed to provide security, transportation and refuge for those senators in need.
Luhrs added, It has come to our knowledge that nearly all senators are currently safe in Idaho with no chance of extradition.
Asked via Facebook messenger whether the group was in touch with any senators, Luhr responded, me personally, no. Asked if the III% was in touch with any senators, Luhrs declined further comment.
A Facebook event called Rally to Take the Capitol promised an all-weekend rally outside the state house. The event used a threat by Republican state senator Brian Boquist to resist police as a rallying cry for the event. Some 150 people had indicated they would attend at the time of writing.
One of the main organizers, John Parker Jr, is a longtime patriot movement activist, and is a former Republican party official in Marion county.
On the event page, Parker described Oregon as a fascist dictatorship, said he was holding hands and saying how angry we are at an empty building on a weekend, and claimed to be in direct contact with at least one Oregon senator.
Parker did not immediately respond to requests for a comment about the event.
A senate Republican spokesperson said that the senators are not with militias and are not accepting their help.
However, Oregon Republicans have previously courted elements of the patriot movement. In 2017, Multnomah county Republican chair, James Buchal, raised the prospect of having members of the Oath Keepers and the III% provide security for Republican events. Multnomah Republicans later voted to use such groups for security.
The Republicans have so far defied requests to return to their jobs. Boquist told reporters the police should send bachelors and come heavily armed. Im not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. Its just that simple.
Boquist did not immediately respond to requests for a comment.
A Republican spokesperson would not comment on Boquists remarks, but did confirm senators had left Oregon. On the governors deployment of police, the spokesperson said, True to their word, Oregon Democrats are following through with their continued threats on Oregon senate Republicans.
The spokesperson argued that the cap and trade scheme should be put to a ballot, saying, Oregonians should have a right to vote on this legislation that will put Oregon jobs and businesses at serious risk with significant fuel cost increases.
Oregon state police meanwhile emphasized a non-confrontational approach to resolving the impasse.
In a statement, OSP said it is utilizing established relationships to have polite communication with these senators.
The statement continued: While we obviously have many tools at our disposal, patience and communication is, and always will be, our first, and preferred, option.
Republicans in Oregon are faced with Democrat supermajorities in both houses and have repeatedly deployed a tactic of absenting themselves from the senate, thereby denying Democrats the necessary 20 senators for voting on legislation, including a business tax for public schools, laws tightening vaccine exemptions and gun laws.
In a statement announcing the deployment of state police, Oregon governor Kate Brown said, It is absolutely unacceptable that the senate Republicans would turn their back on their constituents who they are honor-bound to represent here in this building.
At a news conference on Thursday, Brown said, Senate Republicans failed to show up, and failed to do their jobs.
A spokesperson for the governor told the Guardian that the decision to deploy police is unusual, but the request is unusual.
Oregons constitution says that lawmakers can be compelled to attend the house, and a statute allows the legislature, together with the governor, to call upon police to enforce criminal laws.