WASHINGTON -- Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would prevent taxpayers from paying the high cost of the month-long Oregon refuge occupation and place the burden on the armed group of protesters.
The occupation has cost state and local law enforcement an estimated $100,000 per week, Blumenauer's spokeswoman said in a news release.
The bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to quickly reimburse law enforcement for the costs, and then allow the U.S. Attorney General to bring a civil suit against the occupiers to recover the government's cost.
"When we talk in trillions here in Washington D.C., maybe talk of $100,000 here or a million dollars there doesn't sound like very much, but to the state of Oregon, it matters, Blumenauer said on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. "For this small community, a few hundred thousand dollars has a significant impact on the local taxpayer. They shouldn't be made to pay the bill."
"We should recover damages from law breakers who tear up the landscape, degrade wildlife habitat and destroy property," Blumenauer said. "This legislation would allow the federal government to go back to recover its cost from people who willfully inflict this damage."
The refuge occupation has been going on since the armed group took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2. Bundy and other leaders were arrested, but four protesters remain.