Wednesday, May 31, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement regarding the legislation Congress is considering this week that would raise the debt limit through 2025 while slashing programs working Americans rely on and gutting environmental reviews for fossil fuel projects:

“Since the text of this legislation was released, I have immersed myself in the details and listened carefully to everyone’s points of view. I appreciate the diversity of opinion within the Congress and within my own caucus. Still, I cannot in good conscience vote for this bill.

“This bill breaks with recent, established, and bipartisan practice, cutting programs that are the foundations for thriving families—including health care, housing, and education—to increase military spending.

“In addition, this bill sets two truly horrific precedents:

“It completely exempts the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) from following environmental law, even though the company building the pipeline is an egregious violator that has racked up more than 500 violations in two states.

“In addition, the bill dictates the court jurisdiction for the MVP should there be additional legal challenges. This profoundly undermines the integrity of our judiciary. For Congress to—by law—move a court case from one jurisdiction to another, to provide a special favor to a powerful corporation, is fundamentally corrupt. This is a line we should never cross.

“The pipeline itself is an assault against a sustainable planet. We must recognize that fossil gas is just as damaging as coal. Pretending otherwise is leading us to climate catastrophe.

“Finally, this bill contains changes to bedrock environmental law that will allow fossil fuel companies to evade responsibility and accountability. It allows companies to write their own environmental impact evaluations. It changes the standards for acceptable science and data. It exempts entire pipeline projects from federal environmental protections.

“I fully recognize that a debt default would be a disaster for working families and must never be allowed to happen. It’s unconscionable that MAGA Republicans and Speaker McCarthy were willing to entertain driving the economy over the default cliff at all. However, yielding to this blackmail only guarantees that Republicans will use the debt limit to hold America hostage time and time again. We must end the hostage-taking, either by passing legislation like my Protect our CREDIT Act or through the President exercising his executive power, such as the use of the 14th Amendment.

“In sum, there is virtually nothing in this bill that matches what the people of Oregon care about, and a whole lot of stuff that will hurt them. I can’t throw them under the bus. I cannot in good conscience support this legislation, and I will vote no.”