Pendleton gets $1.8M emergency loan for flood-damaged levee

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The city of Pendleton will get a $1.8 million through an emergency loan for repairs to a critical levee damaged by massive flooding in northeast Oregon earlier this month in hopes the structure can be fixed before the spring snowmelt, Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday.

Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement that the no-interest loan is part of a larger $11.65 million recovery package she outlined last week, but it is the only part of the proposal that can advance without lawmakers’ approval because the remaining dollars come from the state’s general fund or lottery dollars.

GOP politicians in both the Oregon House and Senate walked out Tuesday to stall a vote on a climate change bill championed by Democrats. The walkout stopped the bill to cap Oregon’s carbon emissions, but it has also tied up legislation on wildfire mitigation, homeless assistance and a landmark compromise between the timber industry and environmentalists.

Recovery funding for Umatilla County is another victim of the walkout, Brown said, and she took at jab at state Republicans.

“When legislators deny quorum and shut down government, it puts critical state funding in jeopardy — and not just for flooding relief. This is important work; Oregonians are counting on us,” she said.

At least one GOP lawmaker fired back on Wednesday, saying Brown delayed the loan money unnecessarily.

“I’m not sure why the Governor withheld this funding for two weeks. But no matter what the politics are in the building, it’s the right thing to do,” said Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr., from Grants Pass.

Brown declared a state of emergency in three Oregon counties after unusually heavy rain and snowmelt from the Blue Mountains caused severe flooding in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington on and around Feb. 6.

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