Before Jeff Merkley won his first term as a U.S. Senator, he led the Oregon state legislature, where he had a reputation for getting things done. Clearly, the move to the U.S. Senate in 2009 didn’t change him. If a key issue is in play, you will find Merkley in the debate, representing our progressive values.
Progressive Credentials: Cutting to the heart of getting things done, Merkley led the push for filibuster reform. His plan, co-authored with Senators Tom Harkin and Tom Udall, resulted in limited process reforms in January, but the 60-vote threshold to end debate remained intact.
Since then, Senate Republicans have continued to force delays, even on bills with overwhelming public support and on well-qualified nominees. So Merkley, declaring the limited reform experiment a failure, has resumed his campaign for full filibuster reform.
“The filibuster should be about debate, not obstruction. If senators want to slow things down and block up-or-down votes, they should be required to actually take the floor and talk,” Merkley said. “The American people can then decide – are those senators heroes or bums?”
On another crucial front, Senator Merkley joined Senators Jon Tester, Mark Udall and Ron Wyden to lead an effort to require more warrants for government surveillance and increased disclosure on the reach of government surveillance powers.
“Keeping Americans safe versus protecting Americans’ privacy is a false choice. We have a moral and constitutional duty to do both,” Merkley said about his Protect America’s Privacy Act.
“We can ensure our government has the tools to spy on our enemies without giving it a license to intrude into the private lives of American citizens. This bill will establish new safeguards to respect the principles of the Fourth Amendment protections from government intrusion without a warrant while ensuring that the intelligence community has the tools it needs to combat terrorism.”
One more trademark Merkley issue is opposition to the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” an anonymously written provision slipped into an appropriations bill that allows Monsanto to sell genetically modified seeds even when a federal court has deemed the GMO seeds potentially hazardous. Merkley remains relentless in working for repeal of this possibly disasterous special-interest provision.
Why We Like Him: His love of the American Dream. And because Merkley sees threats to the American Dream — stagnating wages and disappearing living-wage manufacturing jobs; the rising costs of health care, housing and education; the concentration of wealth with the top 10 percent; and a shrinking middle class — he has made it his job to restore the American Dream for middle-class families in Oregon and around the country.
Specifically, Merkley wants immediate congressional action to: reinvest in education, infrastructure and science; fix the broken housing market; restore fairness to the tax system, eliminate massive loopholes for powerful special interests and Big Oil; and nurture manufacturing and the creation of living-wage jobs.
Candidate Quote: “We have much work to do. But I’m confident that America’s best days are yet to come. Together, we will rebuild the middle class, combat global climate change and make our democracy work again.”