Oregon Senate hit by another GOP boycott, now over COVID-19

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Republican lawmakers have boycotted an Oregon Senate session, using a tactic they had employed in the past two years to assert their will by stopping work in the Democratic-led Legislature.

This time it was over the state’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod said the Legislature “has abdicated too much responsibility” to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.

He demanded legislation aimed at school reopenings, vaccine distribution, economic recovery, and government accountability.

Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner accused Senate Republicans of irresponsible actions against democracy and failing to show up for work.

Bend Sen. Tim Knopp, a Republican, responded. 

“I find the Senate Majority Leader’s statement laughable and hypocritical. The Democrats have scheduled themselves not to show up for work since the session started,” he said. “By their standard, they have not shown up to work for 14 days. We have missed one day. All of the Senate Republicans, myself included, are working in committee today. Working Oregonians, students and seniors deserve more from us than only scheduling a single floor session per week.

“They call it a “schedule” when they don’t show up to work, while calling it a “walkout” when we protest for better policy. I am calling them out on their hypocrisy.

“Majority Leader Wagner has broken the trust of our constituents, and I agree: He should get back to work.”

Oregon’s 2020 legislative session imploded after Republicans boycotted over a climate change measure. Republicans also did two walkouts in 2019.

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