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Why 11 Oregon state senators aren’t showing up for work

In Oregon, 11 important people are missing: Republican state lawmakers, who are nowhere to be found amid a partisan standoff now in its fifth day. The legislators walked out to stop the state Senate from acting on a contentious climate bill that would put in place a so-called cap-and-trade system to limit carbon emissions. As William Brangham reports, there’s no end to the conflict in sight.

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  • Nick Schifrin:

    In Oregon tonight, there are 11 people missing, 11 state lawmakers who are nowhere to be found, as part of a partisan standoff now in its fifth day.

    And, as William Brangham reports, there is no end in sight.

  • William Brangham:

    This was the scene today in Oregon's State Senate chamber, once again, much emptier than normal. The body's 11 Republicans didn't show up for work again, after launching a walkout five days ago to stop the state Senate from acting on a contentious climate bill.

    That bill would make Oregon just the second state in the nation to put in place a so-called cap-and-trade system to try and limit the carbon emissions that are driving climate change. The state House has already cleared the bill, with strong backing from environmental groups.

    But opponents, which include workers in the state's logging industry, rallied at a weekend protest at the state capitol, saying that a cap-and-trade system would hurt certain industries.

  • Man:

    This bill is going to destroy the logging industry, and frankly, is going to make people like me, who are a wildland firefighter, it's going to make our jobs more deadly.

  • William Brangham:

    With the legislative session set to conclude at the end of this month, Senate Republicans last week telegraphed that they were considering a walkout.

  • Oregon State Sen. Brian Boquist:

    We're at the 11th hour. If you don't think these boots are for walking, you're flat wrong, Mr. President. And if you send the state police to get me, hell's coming to visit you personally.

  • William Brangham:

    That same state senator, Republican Brian Boquist, also issued a threat, that if Democratic Governor Kate Brown were to order state police to try and forcibly return him and other legislators, there could be violence.

  • Oregon State Sen. Brian Boquist:

    This is what I told the superintendent. Send bachelors and come heavily armed.

  • William Brangham:

    Brown has, in fact, ordered state police to bring back the senators who walked out.

  • Gov. Kate Brown, D-Ore.:

    Senate Republicans failed to show up, and failed to do their jobs.

  • William Brangham:

    She has also said she'd force lawmakers to convene even if the clock on the legislative session runs out.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

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