Oregon Republicans stay home ahead of abortion, guns votes

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Republican state senators in Oregon didn't show up to work on Wednesday, denying the Democrats who control the chamber a quorum and casting doubt on planned votes later this week on legislation pertaining to abortion rights, gun control and gender-affirming health care.

The office of Democratic Senate President Rob Wagner said 10 Republican senators and chamber's lone independent were absent, and that four of the Republicans and the independent were absent without an excuse. The so-called walkout prevented the state Senate from having a quorum and holding its scheduled session.

Republicans said in a news release that they were protesting over bills not being written in plain language, claiming violations of procedural rules, state law and the state constitution. They didn't mention the bills on abortion, gun control or transgender rights, which Democrats would be expected to pass.

“We cannot allow the Senate to operate in an unlawful and unconstitutional manner,” Republican Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp said in the news release. “We demand that transparency and accountability be a part of the legislative process as intended."

Democrats said they thought the moves were aimed at delaying votes on the bills relating to gun control, abortion rights and gender-affirming care.

“It wasn't happenstantial that when we were about to consider those bills, that was when we saw people walking off the job,” Wagner said during a news conference.

GOP lawmakers employed the same strategy in 2020 to freeze legislation on climate change, among other things. But this walkout could test a new voter-approved measure that bans lawmakers who have 10 or more unexcused absences from running for re-election.

Andrew Selsky And Claire Rush, The Associated Press