Merkley Announces Funding to Keep Teachers in Oregon Classrooms

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today announced key provisions in education and health care in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill that will help Oregon communities. The bill was voted out of committee on Thursday.

“Every kid in Oregon should have a shot at the top-flight education they’ll need in today’s knowledge economy,” Merkley said. “The Trump budget proposed eliminating educational programs that help countless Oregonians and Americans. I’m gratified that the committee joined me in soundly rejecting those cuts, preserving programs that keep teachers in the classroom, provide opportunity for disadvantaged students, and help both youth and adults in career technical education.”

Merkley also highlighted provisions in the bill that reversed proposed deep cuts to nursing programs, instead expanding workforce development in the shorthanded nursing field. 

And Merkley celebrated key funding wins to support economic development in rural communities. Merkley led the fight to reject the Trump budget’s elimination of Community Services Block Grants, which are critical to rural Oregon communities, and successfully preserved $700 million in grant funding to help alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty.

Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, considered to be 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. 

Key elements of the legislation that will impact Oregon include:

Nursing: Merkley, responding to rural and urban Oregonians’ concerns, led 28 senators to push for a $5.5 million increase in federal funding for nursing workforce development. The $234.5 million investment rejects the Trump budget’s proposed 64-percent cut. The bill also provides $5 million for additional nurse training on sexual assault patients, and a $5 million increase for the National Institute of Nursing Research, to more than $155 million. 

Rural Oregon: In addition to saving the CSBG, Merkley preserved funding for WISEWOMAN, a Centers for Disease Control program that provides more than 165,000 under-insured, low-income women with services to help reduce heart disease and stroke risk factors. Oregon is one of 20 states funded by the $21 million program.

Education: The senator worked to restore more than $2 billion in funding for teacher training and student academic achievement that the Trump budget eliminated. The funding supports 197 school districts and 30,000 teaching professionals in Oregon. And Merkley successfully led an effort to fully fund TRIO, an educational program that supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Not only does the bill include increased funding to $953 million, but also the committee included language that criticizes the Department of Education’s handling of TRIO.

Career Training: Merkley helped maintain $1.7 billion for Career and Technical Education funding, providing young people and adults training for good-paying jobs that don’t require an expensive college education.

Community Service: Merkley fought to reject Trump’s elimination of community service programs that help vulnerable people. Instead, the bill funds VISTA volunteers at $92 million; Senior Corps programs at $202 million; and AmeriCorps grants at $386 million, which includes College Possible, a program that helps low-income students succeed in college.

Research: Merkley pushed to rebuff Trump’s proposed $6 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health, and instead the bill increases funding by $2 billion, to more than $36 billion to help research and treat cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other devastating diseases. The senator also worked to preserve $54 million for research being conducted at University of Oregon — a leading university on special education research — and other institutions that will help ensure public education benefits students with disabilities.

The next steps for the bill would be to be passed by the full Senate, and then combined with the House version of the bill before being passed into law and signed by the President.