Merkley Decries Lack of Secure Rural Schools Extension in Continuing Resolution

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement regarding his ‘no’ vote on the continuing resolution tonight:

“With tonight’s congressional action—or lack thereof—a critical lifeline for rural Oregon will disappear. Since 2000, the Secure Rural Schools program has provided essential resources for rural Oregon counties to maintain schools, transportation and public safety. Without it, children’s education will suffer, roads will crumble, and lives will be put in danger as patrols are cut back drastically.

“We need a long-term solution for Oregon’s timber counties, but we also need a bridge to get there. Congress’s failure to extend the Secure Rural Schools program before the end of this year fails our rural communities. That’s 100% unacceptable.

“Unfortunately, this is not the only area in which Congress abdicated its responsibilities with this bill. Instead of investing in a year-long funding bill, Congress punted and is instead running our government on autopilot until the end of April. A full year-long bill would have averted the threat of a shutdown in early 2017 and would have made critical investments for both urban and rural Oregon.

Congress also failed to keep our promise to miners who are depending on the government to uphold the long-standing bargain on health insurance. With this bill, the miners will have no idea if they will be insured after April. 

“Finally, the Senate leadership has pre-emptively abandoned the Senate’s responsibility to thoroughly debate the highly extraordinary request by President-elect Trump that Congress change long-standing laws that maintain civilian control of our military. This issue deserves a full and extensive debate in broad daylight. The bill to change those laws won’t even be introduced until next year and yet Senate leadership slipped a provision into this legislation in the dead of night that stifles Senate debate on that future bill.

“For all these reasons, I could not vote for the continuing resolution tonight.”