CORVALLIS, Ore. -- With the cap and trade bill all but dead for now, it appears Republicans have won the legislative battle, but political experts say the victory will most likely be short lived.
The walkout has generated a lot of buzz around the country, and that includes among political commentators in our area.
Rorie Solberg is an associate professor in political science at Oregon State University, and she said walkouts aren't new.
According to the Statesman Journal this is the sixth time Oregon legislators have walked out of a session. The first time they did was in 1971, and it didn't even last a day.
Solberg said walkouts have been used historically for the minority party to stall the legislative session enough for the bill they are opposing to die.
However, she said that the consequences of a walkout like this could be longer lasting than one session.
"It is kind of an all-in strategy, and once you do this, you don't have a lot of wiggle room back. You don't have a lot of political capital left," said Solberg. "You kind of burn it all at that time so then you come back and you've defected in the most public way from the bargaining table. So what is the incentive of the other side to bargain with you on anything else?"
She also said that walking out works only as a short-term solution and it wouldn't be difficult for the Democrats to bring up cap and trade in the next session.
Another professor at OSU, Chris Stout, said this walkout had a complex story leading up to it, but he sees it ending the way most walkouts do.
"This will end probably how it always ends," said Stout. "Maybe the Republicans are able to stall the passage of the Cap and Trade bill in this legislative session, but there's nothing preventing Democrats from bringing it up in the next legislative session. Over the long term, until one side wins enough votes or wins greater representation in the house or the senate, they can't ultimately stop these bills from being passed."
When asked if this walkout is democracy in full force or the opposite of that, Solberg said the consequences are greater than one might think.
"I think it speaks to a certain part of your base that likes it when legislators sort of go all in or go to the wall or go to the mattresses or whatever for their constituents," said Solberg. "But, in terms of representative democracy, you can't be represented if your representatives aren't present."
She said that there are estimates that 100 other bills will die if the Republicans do not return to the session. She said a desire to not have one measure pass and by consequence, stalling everything else, is a failure of the democratic process.
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