July 15, 2009
Extending Breastfeeding Protections:As a member of the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee in 2009, Jeff pushed the committee to take up an amendment to the health care law that would give breastfeeding mothers returning to work important rights and protections in the workplace. When Jeff presented his amendment to the committee, Republican Senator Tom Coburn—a doctor who had seen firsthand the benefits of breastfeeding for new mothers and young babies—immediately spoke up to support it. The result was the first national-level protections for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)
December 9, 2010
Ending Crush Videos: In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act. The bipartisan bill to outlaw fetish videos in which small animals are tortured was introduced by Jeff with Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Richard Burr (R-NC), and passed the Senate unanimously.
Key Republican Partners: Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
May 11, 2011
Bill to Jump-Start Electric Vehicles: Jeff and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the “Promoting Electric Vehicles Act” to provide temporary encouragement for the development and use of plug-in electric motor vehicles nationwide.
The bill would create “deployment communities” across the country in order to help jump-start the market penetration of electric vehicles. These deployment communities would serve as models and help determine best practices for the nationwide use of electric vehicles. The bill would also create a competitive grant process for companies to electrify their fleets and make it easier for the federal government to acquire more electric vehicles.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
June 9, 2011
Amendment to End Worst Mortgage Abuses: Jeff joined with Olympia Snowe (R-ME) to offer the Regulation of Mortgage Servicing Act of 2011 as an amendment to the Public Works and Economic Development Reauthorization Bill. The mortgage servicing bill would help homeowners stay in their homes by ending some of the well-documented abuses by mortgage servicers leading to foreclosures, and would produce a positive ripple effect through the economy by reducing the overall number of foreclosures.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
March 14, 2012
Farm Trucks: Farmers in Oregon and across the nation were being faced with burdensome red tape trying to get their goods to market: Federal regulators were requiring them to switch to interstate trucks to get their goods to market if their nearest depot happened to be across state lines. In 2012, the Senate passed a common-sense, bipartisan farm trucks amendment that Jeff introduced with Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) to allow farmers to get their goods to market across state lines without being treated like long-haul interstate truckers.
Key Republican Partners: Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)
April 25, 2012
Stopping Rural Post Office Closures: When Jeff learned that the U.S. Postal Service was planning to close thousands of rural post offices across the nation—including 41 in Oregon—he got to work and reached across the aisle.
In 2012, the Senate passed the bipartisan 21st Century Postal Service Act, which reformed the USPS and put it on a path toward solvency. The bill included an amendment offered by Jeff and a bipartisan coalition of Senators from states with rural communities that would have been hit hard by these closures. The Merkley Amendment prohibited the closure of rural post offices where such closure would have a substantial impact on small businesses, seniors’ access to medication, and the economic strength of the community.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS)
June 20, 2012
Fair Crop Insurance for Organic Farmers: Jeff worked with Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee to make a key change that was critical for fairness for organic farmers across the country. Prior to the 2012 farm bill, organic farmers were forced to pay higher premiums for crop insurance, but received the same compensation as conventional farmers if their crops were damaged or destroyed. The Merkley-Snowe Amendment passed with bipartisan support as part of the 2012 farm bill and was signed into law by President Obama.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)
June 21, 2012
Rural Energy Savings Program: Jeff authored the Rural Energy Savings Program, which was co-sponsored by Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN). The program provides low-cost loans to rural electric co-ops, who then make loans to their customers for energy efficiency renovations on their homes or businesses. The customers can repay the loans on their bills from the electricity savings. The legislation became law as part of the 2012 farm bill.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN)
June 11, 2013
Ending Secret Law: Jeff and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)worked together to introduce a bill that would put an end to the “secret law” governing controversial government surveillance programs. This bill would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how broad of a legal authority the government is claiming it can use to spy on Americans under the PATRIOT Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
November 8, 2013
Employment Non-Discrimination: Following Jeff’s work to form a bipartisan coalition to end anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on a bipartisan vote of 64-32. This was the first time the Senate passed this legislation to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity since it was first introduced in 1994.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)
February 6, 2014
Congressional Vote on Afghanistan Troop Proposal: Jeff, along with Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for Congress to have a role in approving any further United States military involvement in Afghanistan after the current mission ended on December 31, 2014. At that time, the Obama Administration was negotiating an agreement to keep 10,000 American troops or more in Afghanistan for another ten years. Jeff also worked with Senator Paul to force a vote in 2012 on ending the war in Afghanistan – a vote that passed the full Senate with bipartisan support.
Key Republican Partner: Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY)
July 31, 2014
Expanding Educational Opportunities for Gold Star Families: In 2014, the Senate passed compromise legislation to reform the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and improve veterans’ benefits, which includes a provision authored by Jeff to expand educational benefits to spouses of service members who die in the line of the duty. The Merkley provision, titled the Spouses of Heroes Education Act, was introduced in 2013 with bipartisan sponsorship from Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). An Oregon veteran named Robert Thornhill had contacted Jeff about the idea of expanding educational benefits—an idea, which, thanks to Jeff’s bipartisan work, became legislation and then became law.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Dean Heller (R-NV)
December 11, 2014
Crooked River Agreement: In the final moments of the 113th Congress in 2014, both chambers unanimously passed legislation implementing a major agreement to improve water management in Central Oregon, brokered by Jeff and Representative Greg Walden (R-OR). The bipartisan legislation delivered Central Oregon a major victory in improved water certainty and a stronger foundation for economic growth and job creation.
Key Republican Partner: Representative Greg Walden (R-OR)
May 6, 2015
National Nurse Act: Honoring National Nurses Day in 2015, Jeff and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the bipartisan National Nurse Act. The National Nurse Act would elevate the role of nurses in America’s public health by designating a National Nurse for Public Health, who would occupy a role similar to the Surgeon General.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Shelley Moore Capitol (R-WV)
November 10, 2015
New Legislation to Improve Staffing at VA Health Centers: Jeff, Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) worked together to introduce the Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation to make common-sense changes in staffing policies at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and improve veterans care at VA health care facilities. The legislation would eliminate bureaucratic hurdles to make it easier for qualified health providers to transfer within the VA system, and would create a “docs-to-doctors” pipeline from the military to the VA system so that military health care providers can continue serving their fellow servicemembers when they leave active duty.
Key Republican Partners: Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)
November 19, 2015
Bipartisan Letter Urging Justice Department to Protect America’s Craft Brewers: Jeff and Senator Angus King (I-ME) led a bipartisan group of Senators to urge the U.S. Department of Justice to protect craft brewers across America from potentially unfair and illegal trade practices on the part of larger beer companies. In a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the senators expressed concern about the possibility of larger beer companies pressuring beer distributers to favor their products, creating an unfair advantage for beer giants and limiting the ability of consumer to find craft brewers’ products in the stores, bars and restaurants where they shop.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
December 10, 2015
Coast Guard Helicopters: When the Coast Guard planned to move the lifesaving helicopter based in Newport, Oregon, as well as one on the South Carolina coast, Jeff teamed up with South Carolina’s Republican Senators. Jeff worked with this bipartisan coalition to include a provision in the 2015 Coast Guard Authorization Act ensuring that the rescue helicopters stayed put.
Key Republican Partners: Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott (both R-SC)
December 18, 2015
Rental Assistance Program:Jeff worked with Senator Moran (R-KS) to include a provision in the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2016. Due to a budget miscalculation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development agency, the USDA had stopped paying its share of low-income tenants’ rent at thousands of rural multi-family housing projects across America. This placed the tenants at risk of eviction and homelessness.
The Merkley-Moran provision provided $1.39 billion for USDA Rental Assistance, an increase of $301.2 million from FY2015 (+27.6%). At the time, this was the highest funding level for the USDA Rental Assistance program.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS)
April 14, 2016
Bipartisan Amendment Letting VA Doctors Recommend Medical Marijuana to Veterans: The Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to the Military Construction funding bill led by Jeff and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) that would allow Veterans Health Administration (VA) doctors to discuss and make recommendations about the use of medical marijuana with their patients.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)
April 19, 2016
Klamath Falls and the TSA Fairness Act:When the last commercial air carrier pulled out of the Klamath Falls airport, the local community worked hard to bring commercial service back—but ran into an unexpected roadblock with the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which refused to bring back the screening service that was necessary for the airport to restart commercial service. Jeff jumped into action with the Treating Small Airports with Fairness (TSA Fairness) Act. The TSA Fairness Act required TSA to restore screening at the Crater Late-Klamath Falls Regional Airport, as well as numerous other small airports across the country. The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a standalone version of the TSA Fairness Act, while the Senate passed the TSA Fairness Act as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization. Its strong support from a bipartisan coalition in both chambers sent a serious message to the TSA, and soon the agency acted to restore screening service in Klamath Falls.
Key Republican Partner: Representative Greg Walden (R-OR)
April 21, 2016
Industrial Hemp: Working with a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from Oregon and Kentucky, Jeff fought to include an amendment in a key spending bill that prevents the federal government from interfering with the implementation of state laws on the cultivation of industrial hemp. In addition, Jeff and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) were joined by Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rand Paul (R-KY) to introduce the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would legalize industrial hemp and allow American farmers to grow and profit from this valuable crop. Jeff, Wyden, McConnell, and Paul worked together to successfully include the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in the Senate version of the 2018 farm bill.
Key Republican Partners: Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul (both R-KY)
April 26, 2016
Wind Energy Amendment Passes Senate: In 2016, the Senate passed a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Jeff and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to restore funding for wind energy research and development (R&D). Specifically, the Merkley-Grassley amendment restored funding for wind energy research to $95.4 million, the same level as in FY16. The initial draft of the FY17 Energy and Water Appropriations bill had contained a $15.4 million cut to the program, to just $80 million.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
June 7, 2016
Toxic Chemical Safety Reform: In 2016, the United States Senate passed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, landmark legislation that marked the first major update to toxic chemical safety in the United States in 40 years. Jeff worked with a bipartisan coalition to craft the Senate version of the bill that passed in December 2015, and served as a key negotiator in the House-Senate discussions that produced the bill that ultimately became law.
Key Republican Partners: Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
June 29, 2016
Green Climate Fund Amendment: Jeff and Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) worked together on the Senate Appropriations Committee to fund the Green Climate Fund, an essential part of the international climate agreement reached in Paris in 2015. The amendment was critical to keeping the U.S.’s climate commitments on the world stage.
Key Republican Partners: Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
July 14, 2016
Investing in our Nation’s Nursing Workforce: In 2016, Jeff and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the bipartisan Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act, legislation to support the training and education of nurses and nurse educators. This bill will ensure our nation has the workforce necessary to meeting nursing needs, including the advanced education and training necessary to sustain a robust nursing pipeline. With many nurses retiring and baby boomers projected to increase the demand for medical care in the coming years, the nursing workforce in the United States is facing a critical juncture. To help meet these increasing needs, the Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2016 would reauthorize and update the Nursing Workforce Development Programs under Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act, which include programs that support and advance nursing education, practice, recruitment and retention. This bipartisan bill is supported by the American Nurses Association, the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing, and 54 other national nursing organizations.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
December 14, 2016
Jeff co-led a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce legislation—the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act—to ensure that legal cannabis related businesses can access banking services. Currently, in states like Oregon that have legalized medicinal or recreational cannabis, many businesses and related vendors are denied access to the banking system and forced to operate in all cash, creating a huge public safety risk. The bipartisan SAFE Banking Act would fix this problem and help ensure safer communities.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO)
November 15, 2017
Legislation to Expand Breastfeeding Protections at Work: Jeff and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) worked together to introduce the Supporting Working Moms Act of 2017. This bipartisan legislation would expand critical protections for breastfeeding mothers returning to the workplace—ensuring that ALL new mothers in America have the right to time and privacy to pump at work.
Key Republican Partner: Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
March 21, 2018
Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Burmese Ethnic Cleansing: Jeff, along with Todd Young (R-IN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and John McCain (R-AZ), authored a bipartisan Senate resolution condemning the Burmese campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya and calling for the “safe, dignified, voluntary and sustainable return” of the refugees who have been displaced by this violence. Their resolution was voted out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a bipartisan vote with unanimous support.
Key Republican Partners: Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
August 29, 2018
Fly Smart Act: Jeff and Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the Fly Smart Act, bipartisan legislation to prevent taxpayer dollars from being wasted on first-class flights. The legislation would ban federal government employees—including cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking public servants—from using taxpayer dollars to purchase first- or business-class airline tickets except under exceptional circumstances.
Key Republican Partner: Senator John Kennedy (R-LA)