Congressman tells Clackamas County Business Alliance he's a supporter of the state's mask mandate

Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-Clackamas County) told the county's business alliance this week that he's a supporter of the state's mask mandate so Oregon can now allow more entities to reopen, including schools.

COURTESY PHOTO - Democratic Congressman Kurt Schrader speaks to the Clackamas County Business Alliance during a Aug. 11 Zoom call."I'm a big fan of opening Oregon back up in a safe way," he said. "Our cases have leveled off, which is good … The least we can do is mask up and keep our economy open."

After discussions with the governor and state epidemiologists, Schrader said reopening would result in more cases, but that few children or teachers — a group largely younger than 65 — would suffer greatly from catching COVID-19.

"Let's protect the seniors and those with underlying health conditions," he said. "To a certain extent, this bug is here to stay … We can't keep kids out of schools for the next several years."

During the Aug. 11 online chat with members of the Clackamas County Business Alliance, Schrader said he's been largely pleased with the bipartisan support for various federal bills, largely in response to the pandemic.

"I'm actually proud of how Congress has operated," Schrader said. "Hopefully it has been a bit of a lifeline for a lot of folks out there."

But Schrader said he's not a fan of any executive order, including President Trump's order to continue $600 in extra monthly unemployment benefits, which Schrader says "has some real Constitutional and legal issues" moving forward.

"Some of the blame falls on Congressional leaders, to be very honest," he said.

Among the bills Schrader is proud of include the oil and gas revenues now going into parks.

"It's not all doom and gloom, guys; we're actually working really hard on the issues," Schrader said.

Schrader said he supports another CARES package that is "hopefully more targeted" to have bigger bang for the buck.

"As a steward of taxpayer dollars, I'm concerned about the future," Schrader said. "We just can't keep spending money that we don't have."

A House appropriations bill that Schrader supported would allow more people access to affordable housing, an issue about which he says the nation still has a lot of catch-up to do from the last recession.

"It has to get past the Senate at the end of the day," he said.

In other issues, Schrader said he was glad he doesn't represent Portland, when asked about the nightly protests. While he supports "peaceful daytime protests," he indicated he would support more curfews.

"I think you have no business going out in the middle of the night," he said.

Schrader called on Joe Biden to pick a running mate from the Midwest just before U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) was announced as the third female U.S. vice presidential nominee of a major party in history. Schrader had said that a running mate from California would not have the best chance of defeating Trump.

"We need states that we did not win in the last election," Schrader said.

This story has been updated from its original version online with an additional comment from Schrader in light of Kamala Harris being the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.