WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today announced that he will serve as the Chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the U.S. Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Forest Service.
“Last year’s unprecedented wildfire season serves as another haunting reminder that the health and safety of our communities depend on our ability to maintain healthy forests and aggressively tackle the climate crisis,” Merkley said. “I’m honored to be leading the Appropriations subcommittee that is at the heart of those fights. I will keep working to secure the resources Oregon needs to take on these and other challenges—addressing Sudden Oak Death, protecting fish habitat, improving forest health, boosting our recreation economy, protecting our drinking water, and preserving Oregon and America’s many natural treasures.
“I also take seriously the critical role this subcommittee plays in delivering resources for tribal nations and native communities in Oregon and across our country. All too often, the United States has not fulfilled its promises to Indian Country, and I will work hard to make sure their needs are heard and reflected in our nation’s spending plans, while honoring tribes’ self-determination and sovereignty.”
Merkley is a long-time member of the subcommittee and has used his seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to advocate for and secure critical resources for top Oregon priorities that fall within the subcommittee’s jurisdiction. In December, those resources included $2.35 billion in additional funding for fire suppression, and $6.5 million to support strategies to restore fish habitat and scale up ongoing efforts to restore healthy populations of shortnose and Lost River sucker in the Klamath Basin.
Merkley also worked to ensure that the 2021 Interior funding bill maintained the additional $5 million in funding that he secured for habitat restoration in advance of the removal of Klamath River dams; funneled $85 million to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to support regional earthquake initiatives; and directed $6.21 billion—$163 million more than in fiscal year 2020—to the Indian Health Service, which provides health care to thousands of tribal members in Oregon. And Merkley maintained $40 million for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), which helps fund collaborative and community-based forest management and has a proven track record of improving forest health, reducing wildfire risk, and supporting rural communities. Oregon has four active CFLRP projects: Northern Blues Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, Southern Blues Restoration Coalition Collaborative Landscape Restoration Project, Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project, and Lakeview Collaborative Landscape Restoration Project.
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.