Elections have consequences.
We hear it again and again. The party with the majority has additional powers to push legislation, and the minority party has to deal with that reality.
These days, however, the Republicans are not going by the rules. In so many states, we are finding that they are breaking tradition and rules to either force their agenda or at least deny the Democrats theirs.
Right now, we are in the midst of such a standoff in Oregon. Last month, the Republican legislators in the state legislature walked out to deny a vote on a K-12 education spending bill. (In order to take a vote, there must be enough legislators to constitute a quorum, and in the case of the state Senate, this means at least 20 of the 30 legislators must be present. The Democrats have the majority, but only 18 legislators, 2 shy of making a quorum.)
That standoff ended when the Democrats made concessions on other bills that were being considered, and–this is important–the Republicans promised not to walk out again.
Fast forward to this past week, when the Republicans fled the state in order to stop a climate change vote from occurring. So after promising not to walkout of any more votes, the Republicans went back on their word and did it again.
Even more dangerously, they have suggested that if Governor Brown sends the state police to retrieve them–which she has the executive power and legal standing to do–that those police should expect violence. I wish I was kidding about that. Yes, one of the Republican legislators is quoted as saying, “Send bachelors and come heavily armed.” Now several organized armed groups (I’m not sure we should call them militias, but instead vigilantes) have pledged to “protect” these legislators.
All that’s going on here is that the Republicans are in the minority, and they hate that, so they refuse to play by the rules–you know, the basics like show up to legislative sessions and do the work that your voters sent you to do–and are gumming up the works however they can.
Oregon’s legislative session ends on June 30 and there are hundreds of bills that need to get passed. Bills like a bipartisan medical leave plan and another to inform residents who are considering buying property in flood zones. Once the end of the month hits, every bill still in consideration effectively dies. Even in a special session called after July 1, every single bill would still have to go through the committee process all over again.
So, this is what’s happening in my state. What’s happening in yours? Are your Republicans behaving badly?