PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Republicans are protesting Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 policies Thursday by refusing to attend Thursday’s floor session, marking the third year of protests from the minority party in the Legislature.
According to a statement from Senate Republicans, the state lawmakers are protesting because of three issues: Reopening schools, vaccine rollout and helping with economic recovery.
“Students are suffering from school closures. Seniors, as well as rural Oregonians, are being failed by an abysmal vaccine rollout. Working families are struggling to make ends meet.”
Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (Lyons) issued the following statement:
“Throughout the pandemic, the Legislature has abdicated too much responsibility to the Governor. We cannot sit by and watch the Governor fail to deliver on the biggest issues facing Oregonians today. It’s time to take some of the responsibility and get to work on the issues that matter most to Oregonians. We are demanding legislation aimed at school reopenings, vaccine distribution, economic recovery, and government accountability be moved to the top of the priority list.”
Majority Leader Rob Wagner released a statement on the Senate Republicans walking out:
“Senate Republicans walked out in 2019, again in 2020, and now they are walking out on 2021. Oregonians are exhausted by Senate Republicans’ irresponsible actions against democracy. The Senate Republicans are denying their constituents the representation they deserve to have in the Senate.
“This must stop. Oregonians will hold Senate Republicans accountable and responsible for walking off the job. There will be consequences for their breach of the public trust. We will advance new rules and laws that will deter future walkouts and provide accountability for all elected officials who refuse to show up for Oregonians.”
Gov. Brown’s office responded with the following statement shared with KOIN 6:
“Oregonians face unprecedented challenges––from a worldwide pandemic, to historic wildfires and a severe winter weather event. These challenges demand all of our elected officials to set aside their differences and work together to move Oregon forward. With each crisis, the Governor has declared a state of emergency to make sure families have access to all available state and federal resources that can help. Let’s be clear: Governor Brown is using all available tools and resources to respond to the crises facing Oregonians. This includes addressing the health and economic needs of Oregon families as a result of the pandemic, as well as using all available resources to safely return Oregon students to the classroom. Oregon has vaccinated hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, including our most vulnerable seniors. Governor Brown is going to keep going to work every day for Oregonians. She expects all elected officials to do the same.”
The protest comes hours after Brown extended the state’s COVID-19 emergency into early May.