Oregon Dem wants to reimburse law enforcement for armed standoff costs

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Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerOvernight Finance: House GOP grills IRS chief on impeachment | Bipartisan anger over Iran payment | Fed holds rates steady but hints at coming hike Panel votes to extend nuclear power tax credit DEA decision against reclassifying marijuana ignores public opinion MORE (D-Ore.) has unveiled legislation that would force the federal government to reimburse local law enforcement agencies for costs incurred during the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

The standoff with authorities began in early January, but the occupiers' leader, Ammon Bundy, was arrested last week.

“The armed occupation by out-of-state invaders in eastern Oregon is now in its second month. There’s already been violence, loss of life, damage to federal property, and total disruption of this small quiet community in far eastern Oregon,” Blumenauer said on the House floor Wednesday.

“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,” he said. “They shouldn’t be made to pay the bill.”

The armed occupation at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge began Jan. 2 to protest a prison sentence for two landowners who were convicted of arson on nearby federal property.

Ammon Bundy and his brother, Ryan, are the sons of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who was at the center of a dispute in 2014 over refusing to pay grazing fees for his cattle on federal land. 

Both Bundys and several other protest leaders were arrested last week, and another protester was killed during a police confrontation.

Ammon Bundy has urged the remaining occupiers at the refuge to "go home now so their lives are not taken."

Most of the occupiers left the refuge after Bundy and other protest leaders were arrested last week. But four still remain at the refuge, according to The Oregonian.

Other Oregon Democrats have called on the federal government to become more involved in resolving the standoff. The FBI, which is housed within the Justice Department, has been working with local law enforcement to monitor the conflict since it began.

“It’s time for the Justice Department to take some action. Wake up down there!” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said in a House floor speech last month.