Portland City Council has delayed its vote to ban city dollars from benefiting Texas. The emergency resolution, originally scheduled for a Wednesday council vote, would prohibit city departments from purchasing products or services from Texas, and bans city business trips to the state. The decision is meant to reflect the city's disapproval of Texas' newest anti-abortion law, which bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy—before many people even know they're pregnant. The ban would be in effect "until the state of Texas withdraws its unconstitutional ban on abortion or until it is overturned in court," according to a Friday press release from Mayor Ted Wheeler's office.
The Texas law went into effect on September 1, after the US Supreme Court declined to consider an appeal.
During Wednesday's City Council meeting, Wheeler told a member of the public hoping to testify on the issue that the vote had been "put off." Heather Hafer, a spokesperson for Wheeler's office, told the Mercury that the vote will likely be on next week’s council agenda.
"City Council is working together to best understand the impact of this important decision," said Hafer in an email.
The ban would have a fiscal impact on both Texas and Portland. According to Hafer, the city spent around $35 million on goods and services originating from Texas over the past five years. Hafer did not share what types of products were purchased in these past transactions. She also noted that city employees made 19 trips to Texas in the past 2 years, despite a ban on city travel between March 2020 and June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The delay of Portland's council vote follows its loud condemnation by Texas officials.
On Monday, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick called the decision "comical" in a tweet, using the opportunity to take a jab at Wheeler for Portlanders' protests against law enforcement.
"Texas is solidly #prolife and Texans support law enforcement," wrote Patrick, a staunch conservative who recently blamed Texas' surge in COVID cases on unvaccinated Black Texans. "Meanwhile, Portland is a dumpster fire and Texas is thriving."
The Oregonian's editorial board has also critiqued the planned resolution, but not for the reasons Patrick put forward. In an editorial published Wednesday morning, the board characterized the vote as "pointless preening," and urged city leaders to focus on critical issues closer to home.
"Why is this symbolic action considered a priority in a city with so many concrete needs?" the board asked.
The resolution has yet to be formally rescheduled.