Legislative Priorities

The impact of the opportunity crisis is being felt at kitchen tables in Oregon and around the country by families worrying how they’ll make ends meet. Jeff has long advocated to raise the minimum wage to a living wage and to phase out subminimum wages for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities. Nobody working full time should live in poverty in America. 

The son of a union machinist, Jeff strongly believes in the right of every working person to organize their workplace and advocate for safe working conditions and fair wages and benefits. In the Senate, Jeff works to strengthen federal laws that protect the right of every working person to join a union and to negotiate higher wages, better benefits, and safe workplaces. Jeff is also a strong advocate for the benefits families depend on, like paid leave and access to child care, and strong enforcement of workplace protections. 

Read more about Jeff’s recent work to support living wage jobs. 

Jeff is using his experience developing affordable housing, including his former leadership at a Habitat for Humanity affiliate, to fight for a huge expansion in resources to support affordable housing. Every Oregonian should have a safe, affordable place to call home. He’s introduced innovative housing policies to increase our supply of housing, address racial discrimination in federal housing policies, and provide housing and supportive services to reduce chronic homelessness. 

Jeff also believes that the houses in our communities should be homes for people, not cash cows for Wall Street. Huge hedge funds are gobbling up available homes, driving up both home prices and rent prices, fueling the affordable housing crisis. Jeff is fighting to ban hedge funds from owning homes to break their grip on our housing market and put power back in the hands of the American people. 

Read more about Jeff’s recent work to make sure everyone has a safe, affordable roof overhead. 

Jeff is a product of Oregon’s public schools, and was fortunate to receive a high-quality, well-rounded education that opened countless doors for him. But as his own children went through the same schools that he attended, he saw that opportunity diminishing. Class sizes had increased, extracurricular activities had been cut back, and the price of college was increasingly out of reach for many students in his blue-collar neighborhood. 

Jeff is working in the Senate to lower the cost of higher education, take on predatory actors, and level the playing field in the college admissions process by banning priority admissions for the children of alumni and donors. He knows that four-year college isn’t the right option for every person and has worked to support high-quality career and technical education in Oregon and across the country, including boosting career and technical education in K-12 schools and union apprenticeship programs. Trade and vocational education is crucial to supporting our communities and economies and is a critical piece of our education system. 

The people who give their lives to education are an essential resource for schools, and Jeff is focused on supporting the teachers that shape the minds of the next generation. He has worked in the Senate to reduce class sizes and make sure teachers have the resources they need to provide a quality education for every student, no matter where they go to school. He also worked on bicameral legislation to boost the availability of critical mental health resources in elementary and secondary public schools across the country—a critical support for our students. 

Read more about Jeff’s recent work to support quality education for all. 

Jeff’s perspective on health care has been influenced by his wife Mary, a registered nurse, who sees the world through the eyes of her patients: the people who should be central to all health care policy. Access to quality, affordable health care is a human right—not a privilege for the wealthy.

As prescription drug prices continue to soar, Jeff is taking on Big Pharma and has written legislation to ensure that American consumers don’t pay more for medications than people in other developed countries. Americans invest the more in prescription drug research and development than any other country, and should get the best prices, not the worst. He has also supported capping the price of insulin at $35, a victory that the Inflation Reduction Act delivered for people on Medicare and that Jeff is determined to extend to everyone.

All families have their own health care horror story it seems, and Jeff is fighting for a simple, seamless health care system that delivers affordable, high-quality care to anyone who needs it.  He supports Medicare for All and has written a bill to give anyone buying private insurance a chance to access Medicare instead. Jeff also succeeded in 2022 in creating an Office of Rural Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because he knows that one-size fits all solutions often don’t work in rural communities.  

Without a strong and supported nursing and health care workforce, there is no health care system in our country. Jeff fought for support for frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, expanded training and benefits for our nursing workforce, and funding for community health centers in Oregon and across the country. 

Jeff believes that every person should have access to a full range of quality, affordable health care—including abortion care. While some politicians are pushing for a nationwide ban on abortion, Jeff is working to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade, end the Hyde Amendment, and protect access to the full scope of reproductive health care. 

Read more about Jeff’s recent work to expand access to quality, affordable health care. 

We’re facing a democracy crisis: dark money pouring into our elections, partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression efforts aimed at barring certain Americans from having a voice in our elections, and public officials who are using their offices to serve themselves instead of their constituents. These aren’t new threats, but in the wake of efforts to overturn lawful elections and attack the integrity of vote counting and election certification, our democracy is under threat like never before. Jeff has led Senate efforts to restore and protect the freedom of every American to cast a meaningful ballot and ensure it’s counted, get dark money out of our electoral system, and end the unfair practice of partisan gerrymandering.  

Jeff has been called the “Chief Filibuster Antagonist” because of his work to reform the broken filibuster and get the Senate back to working order. The Senate today is nothing like what the Constitution designed—it is rigged to make sure the rich and powerful get their top priorities while ensuring gridlock for everything else. Jeff is leading a national effort to restore the Senate’s ability to deliver on important priorities for the American people, while preserving its traditional role of promoting deliberation and negotiation.

Read more about Jeff’s recent work to protect our freedom to vote and fix the broken Senate. 

Climate chaos is the challenge of our time—a crisis that threatens our health, our jobs, our homes, and our futures. Jeff is fighting to remake how America and the world use energy, including making sure our renewable energy future is built in America with union labor, righting environmental injustices, and stopping dangerous new fossil fuel projects that would lock in decades more pollution. 

Jeff has fought to protect Oregon’s forests, coast, and agricultural economies from the effects of climate chaos, and has brought labor unions and environmental leaders together to craft bold new legislation to curb emissions while driving good paying new jobs for America’s workers. His innovative proposals have earned the support of union leaders and climate advocates alike, helping build climate strategy that not only safeguards the planet but will support a stronger future for America’s working families.  

Jeff is also focused on addressing the plastic production and pollution crisis. Microplastics have been found in everything from our water supply to remote mountaintops to deep inside the lungs of living people—they are in literally everything we touch. The production of plastics is a major driver of carbon pollution driving the climate crisis. Jeff introduced legislation to fix our broken waste and recycling systems, phase out unnecessary single-use plastics, hold corporations accountable for their waste, and protect people from toxic pollution from plastic production. He’s also focused on bringing innovations from Oregon to the national stage, such as Oregon’s signature “bottle bill” approach to reducing waste.

Read more about Jeff’s recent work on climate action. 

Jeff holds a public town hall for each of Oregon’s 36 counties, every year. He considers taking input and ideas from Oregonians and shaping them into legislation one of the best and most important parts of his job. As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and the only Oregon member of Congress currently serving on the powerful Appropriations Committee, Jeff works with local communities to ensure that important projects in Oregon have the funding needed to move forward. Jeff has used his seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to advocate and secure critical resources for top Oregon priorities, like funding for housing, drought relief, critical wildfire mitigation, fish habitat restoration, and access to improved health care, including mental health and addiction treatment. 

When Jeff hears about problems in different corners of the state, he takes them seriously and dives in with bipartisan solutions where he sees opportunities to fix them. Whether that’s preventing the Coast Guard from taking a life-saving helicopter out of Newport, fighting to keep Oregon’s rural post offices open, or even helping to change interstate trucking rules to help Oregon farmers whose nearest processing facility is across state lines—Jeff will always fight fiercely for Oregon’s unique needs.  

Read more about Jeff’s recent work to deliver for Oregon.

Wildfire season in Oregon is growing longer and hotter—threatening entire communities, public health, and local businesses. Every Oregonian has experienced in some way the growing threat of wildfires, heat, and smoke in our state. Jeff has leveraged his powerful position as the Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee to dramatically increase the federal funding to support healthy forests, reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires, meet the growing demands of wildfire fighting, and help communities hit by disasters recover quickly.   

With the input of Oregonians across the state, Jeff has written legislation that will bring transformative investments in forest management, training and support for firefighters, drought mitigation, and assistance for communities impacted by wildfires and choked by wildfire smoke. He is working across the aisle on bipartisan legislation to increase investment in collaborative forest management and to offer wildland firefighter training to Job Corps Conservation Center students—vital to training new firefighters and getting folks into the hiring pipeline.  

Jeff has also worked to provide relief to farmers and ranchers who experienced loss due to historic, multi-year drought in Oregon and across the West, has jump-started efforts to convert open irrigation canals to pipes to save water, and helped facilitate historic water savings agreements to stretch scarce water resources further.  

Read more about Jeff’s recent work to help communities prevent and recover from wildfires. 

Jeff is a leading voice in the Senate for protecting human rights, at home and abroad. In June 2018, Jeff sparked a national outcry when he went to the border to investigate the Trump administration’s child separation policy and was turned away from a child detention center. He is fighting to ensure that our asylum laws are followed. Jeff is working to pass comprehensive legislation to reform our immigration policies to respect the dignity of every person and to strengthen the legal framework for people to come build new lives in America.

Jeff believes in the right of every person to live as their authentic self, without fear of violence or hate because of who they are or whom they love. Central to protecting human rights is protecting the civil rights of LGBTQ+ Americans, which is why Jeff wrote the Equality Act and is fighting to get it passed. 

As a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jeff has made protecting and advancing human rights his signature work on the. Jeff was the first member of Congress to travel to Burma and Bangladesh following the onset of the Rohingya genocide and has led the Congressional response to these atrocities. He has led efforts condemning the use of hunger as a weapon of war and has been a leading voice to increase humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

As a Co-Chair of the Congressional Executive Commission on China, Jeff has worked on a bipartisan basis to pass landmark legislation addressing the Uyghur genocide, defending human rights and democracy in Hong Kong, and protecting American businesses from the Chinese government’s censorship and intimidation. 

Read more about Jeff’s recent work to protect human rights.