WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after voting against the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today. Earlier this week, Merkley offered an amendment to the NDAA that would stop President Trump’s federal deployment of secret police to Portland and other U.S. cities, but Senate Republicans blocked a vote on the amendment.
“Even without the developments of this past week, I could not have supported today’s legislation, which continues high levels of wasteful defense spending that block us from adequately investing in the education, infrastructure, and health care that American families need. But after what has happened in Portland in recent days—and Senate Republicans’ refusal to do anything about it—opposition to this bill has grown even more urgent.
“President Trump is deploying dangerous authoritarian tactics on our street as a twisted campaign strategy. Americans, being used as props in this campaign, are suffering the consequences—from a protester whose skull was fractured by being shot in the head, to Portlanders who were picked up off the street and swept into unmarked vans, to a Navy veteran whose hand was broken, to the Black community leaders, other people of color, moms, and other peaceful protesters who are being tear gassed nightly.
“We cannot let these secret police tactics and this attack on our democratic freedoms stand. This week, I offered an amendment that addresses this urgent national crisis and that has the support of more than 40 of my Senate colleagues. It is utterly inexcusable that the Senate majority blocked a vote on this amendment.
“The American people deserve a Senate that will debate and vote on the big issues of our day—and there is no issue that is more important than saving our bedrock constitutional rights from imminent threat. Senate Republicans may be determined to avoid a politically awkward vote on President Trump’s authoritarian threats to our democracy, but I am equally determined to have a real debate and vote on the floor of the Senate. I will keep pushing with every tool at my disposal to make the Senate fills its constitutional role and to stop the use of secret police and police state tactics on America’s streets.”