SALEM, Ore. — Late Wednesday night, 11 Republican senators from Oregon said they aren't returning to work because they don't believe the cap-and-trade energy conservation bill that prompted them to flee the state is actually dead, as top Democratic leaders have suggested.
"Despite the rumors, there has been no deal," Senate Republicans said in a prepared statement.
It's been more than a week since GOP senators fled the state to avoid a vote on HB 2020, also known as the cap-and-trade bill, which would reduce fossil fuel emissions through a cap on carbon.
On Thursday, the Senate convened at 9:30 a.m. The 11 Republican senators were once again absent. Without the required number of senators needed to form a quorum, Senate Leader Peter Courtney announced the session was recessed until 3 p.m.
Truckers and loggers from across the state converged on Salem to protest HB 2020 on Thursday morning. Watch video of the protest.
Earlier this week, Courtney said his party doesn't have enough votes to pass the bill, and Gov. Kate Brown suggested the same during comments at a rally later that day.
Courtney urged Republicans to return to work, noting that more than 140 bills are currently frozen in the Oregon legislature, including budget bills and policies addressing foster care and mental health.
The countdown clock is ticking down to Sunday night, when the legislative session ends. If Republicans don't return by then, all the bills in limbo would die on the spot.
The rogue Republican senators said they "appreciate" Courtney's announcement, but aren't budging on their original demand to put HB 2020 on a ballot and let voters decide its fate.
"We ... stand by our original request and demand that the House and Senate Democrats along with Governor Brown assure that any carbon bill must be referred to ballot so the people of Oregon can make the final decision on this job killing and truly life altering bill," the GOP said in Wednesday's statement.
The statement released by the Senate Republican caucus noted that "several of the Senate Democrats have publicly vowed to push the bill across the Senate floor to the Governors desk" and took exception to Gov. Brown's comments that the Republicans "are standing against democracy."
"This signals that HB2020 is not dead," the statement reads.