Merkley Announces Committee Action to Invest in Health Care and Education for Oregon Families

Federal investments included in fiscal year 2024 Senate funding bill champion affordable health care, mental health resources, and expanded education options across the state.

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced he is working to deliver major investments to expand affordable health care and mental health resources, as well as increase childcare, early education, and career and technical training options throughout the state.

The funding comes through the FY24 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) bill that passed out of committee with bipartisan support.

Federal funding in the LHHS bill includes over $28.5 million for 19 community-initiated projects throughout the state, as well as more key investments to support programs and projects that help provide Oregon families with greater access to quality, affordable health care and education options while boosting job creation—particularly in rural, coastal, and underserved communities.

“As I held a town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties this year, I heard firsthand from folks about what matters most to them, including the need to make significant investments in our education and health care systems, with a particular emphasis on affordable child care and providing more mental and behavior health resources around the state,” Merkley said. “The funding included in this bill for health care and education programs and critical community-initiated projects will benefit Oregonians in every corner of the state for years to come.”

Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, which is one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.

Senator Merkley, along with Senator Ron Wyden, secured investments for a total of 19 Oregon community-initiated projects in the Senate LHHS spending bill, which are as follows:

  • $3 million to Oregon Health Authority for 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Statewide Public Awareness Campaign. This aims to increase awareness of crisis services across the state and expand availability of services, with a particular emphasis on increasing awareness across underserved communities, including veterans and communities of color.
  • $2.5 million for Washington County to help construct the Center for Addictions Triage and Treatment (CATT). With the county experiencing one of the highest gaps in addiction treatment service availability in the state, this project will improve access to outpatient and residential treatments, withdrawal management, peer drop-in services, and other support such as access to supportive housing services.
  • $2.034 million for Umpqua Community College Medical Careers Hub and Clinic toward the construction of their Medical Careers Hub facility on the Umpqua Community College (UCC) campus.  The building will include a public clinic, fulfilling a need for medical services, and providing clinical space for students to learn.
  •  $2 million to OHSU’s Oregon Nurse Education, Practice Integration and Retention Demonstration Project, an innovative pilot demonstration to provide opportunities for nurse education and improve nurse retention to work toward addressing Oregon’s nurse shortage.
  • $2 million for Parrott Creek Regional Center of Excellence for Youth Residential Treatment toward construction of a 26,000 square foot building designed for living, education, treatment, recreation, and administrative space, serving some of Oregon’s most vulnerable youth and enabling Parrott Creek to double their capacity.
  • $2 million for La Clinica Acute Care Center Expansion Project to expand La Clinica’s Acute Care Center in order to improve access to urgent care services to nearly 80,000 low-income, uninsured, and under-insured residents in Jackson County, Oregon.  This expansion will enable La Clinica to add twelve exam rooms, on-site pharmacy services, an ancillary lab for same-day specimen processing, and in-house imaging capabilities.
  • $2 million for Curry Health Network Chemotherapy Treatment Project for the construction of a new chemotherapy clinic co-located at the Curry Health Network Hospital in Gold Beach. Chemotherapy is currently not available in Curry County, a coastal region which spans 1,988 square miles, requiring patients to travel hundreds of miles for treatment.
  • $1.97 million for renovation costs to keep the Rockwood Health Center facility in East Multnomah County operational well into the future. Currently providing care to 7,200 clients annually, with nearly 67% reporting as BIPOC, Multnomah County is significantly investing in this health center to maintain and expand care for some of the county’s most vulnerable populations.
  • $1.675 million for Portland Community College to launch their mental health and community wellness initiative to increase the availability of a skilled mental health workforce. With Oregon currently ranked at the bottom in the nation for access to substance-use disorder treatment, this initiative will help address this gap by focusing on recruitment in the fields of addiction treatment and human services, and by creating class offerings for current professionals looking to expand their knowledge and credentials in the field.
  • $1.5 million to further realize the Behavioral Health Stabilization Center in Lane County. The Center will serve those with co-occurring disorders, offering prescribers and peer-delivered services, and a dedicated space for law enforcement to bring individuals as a diversion from arrest.
  • $1.3 million for the UO Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health’s to help fund a behavioral health pilot project with the goal of providing technical assistance to Oregon schools seeking to offer preventative interventions to children experiencing mental health and behavioral issues.
  • $1.163 million to Lines for Life for their YouthLine National Expansion project to increase availability of YouthLine—a peer-to-peer crisis line and youth development program—to be available to young people 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: a substantial increase from the current six hours per day. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24 nationwide, and YouthLine provides critical suicide prevention services at no cost.
  • $1.142 million for the St. Charles Health System and OHSU to help establish a Psychiatry Residency Program to improve psychiatric and behavioral health services in Central Oregon. As Central Oregon has seen a surge in population growth the past decade, this program will help meet the need for increased services involving mental health, which has put a strain on the region’s only hospital system.
  • $1 million for The Klamath Tribes to create a workforce training program for Tribal members to have the skills and tools to work in forest restoration, prescribed fire, and wildfire management on the Fremont-Winema National Forest. With half the forest being former Tribal land, the program will help ensure The Klamath Tribes have greater access to care for known sacred sites within the forest.
  • $978,000 to Lifeways to construct a Stabilization Center in Ontario. Lifeways is the Certified Mental Health Program of Malheur County. This much needed facility will help individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders with services including 24-hour crisis assessments and interventions, counseling, mobile crisis services, peer support, and connection to community resources. The center would also provide training to law enforcement and community partners.
  • $896,000 for Oregon Coast Community College, in collaboration with secondary, postsecondary, industry, and workforce partners to create an educational pipeline to develop Blue Economy workers. This includes expanding programs in Maritime Construction/Welding and developing a new program that builds the regional workforce capacity for high-skilled, high-wage, in-demand jobs that support the maritime sector.
  • $500,000 for Southern Oregon University Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project for SOU students to assist with a comprehensive statewide inventory of Chinese heritage sites in order to document this underrepresented population in the settlement and development of Oregon. The project will consist of archival research, targeted field visits, and community outreach, followed by archaeological investigations.
  • $450,000 for Oregon Dept. of Education’s Revitalizing Rural School Libraries project, which aims to revitalize rural public-school libraries through a series of grants to expand library collection size and range.  In particular, these grants for rural schools will go toward purchasing relevant, updated, culturally relevant books. 
  • $426,0000 for the Oregon Native American Chapter to help diversify Oregon’s semiconductor manufacturing workforce. The project will specifically support socially and economically disadvantaged workers, most especially those from BIPOC communities, to ensure they are included in the growing semiconductor industry in the state.

For quotes from community-initiated project recipients included in the LHHS bill, click HERE.

Health Care

Rural Health: The bill includes critical investments in health care access and delivery in rural areas, including $155 million for the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, an increase of $10 million, and $12.5 million for State Offices of Rural Health, including the Oregon Office of Rural Health. The bill also includes $5 million to further elevate the CDC’s Office of Rural Health, which was created based on Senator Merkley’s Rural Health Equity Act and bipartisan work in last year’s funding bill.

Nursing: The bill includes $302.4 million to support current nurses in Oregon and across the country and address the nursing workforce shortage. Funding will be used for nursing workforce development programs, which support nurses at all levels of education, training, and retention.

Reproductive Health Care: The bill includes funding for reproductive health care programs, including nearly $286 million for the Title X Family Planning Program.

Maternal and Child Health: The bill includes over $1 billion for programs to improve maternal and child health, including $7 million to expand support for a maternal mental health hotline.  

Mental and Behavioral Health Care: The bill includes $1.043 billion for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant—an increase of $34 million—to improve mental health services in all 50 states. Oregon benefited from over $16 million in program funding in years prior. The bill also includes over $500 million in funding for 988, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Medical Research: The bill includes a $943 million increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health, totaling $49.2 billion in the fight against cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, and other devastating conditions.

Community Health Centers: The bill includes $1.86 billion in funding to support ongoing efforts to increase accessibility of medical services through community and school-based health centers. These centers serve a vital role in ensuring access to primary care for rural and underserved communities.


Childcare and Early Education: The bill includes over $8.7 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, a $700 million increase, $12.3 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start, and $310 million for preschool development grants to build or enhance preschool program infrastructure.

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Education: The bill includes over $375.6 million for programs for migrant students and seasonal farmworkers. Through this program, higher education and non-profit organizations can receive funding to give migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their children the opportunity to attend higher education or earn their GED. Oregon State University, Chemeketa Community College, Portland Community College, Treasure Valley Community College, and community-based organizations in Oregon receive funds through this program.

Accessible Education: The bill includes $15.7 billion, a $200 million increase, for special education programs. This includes funding to assist Oregon in providing a free, appropriate education for children with disabilities and provide support services for over 7.6 million students nationwide, including those participating in early intervention and preschool programs.

Student Support: The bill includes $1.19 billion for TRIO, a suite of eight educational programs that supports students from first-generation college students and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. As the first person in his family to graduate from college, Merkley knows firsthand the value of this type of support and has been a fierce advocate for the funding. The bill also includes a $250 increase in the maximum Pell Grant award, the cornerstone of student financial aid, which would increase the total maximum Pell grant award to $7,645 for the 2024 – 2025 school year.

Career Training: The bill includes $2.21 billion, a $20 million increase, for Career, Technical and Adult Education, which supports the workforce and economy by training young people to fill in-demand, twenty-first century jobs.

Community Services Block Grants: The bill includes $765 million for the program which provides critical support for rural Oregon communities.

Community Service: The bill funds AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers at $103 million; Senior Volunteer Corps programs at $237 million; and State AmeriCorps grants at $557 million.

Now that the LHHS bill has cleared the Appropriations Committee, it next heads to the Senate floor for a full vote before it can be conferenced with its counterpart bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. The final, merged legislation must then be passed by both chambers before it is signed into law. 

This press release has been updated.