WASHINGTON – Today, as the 114th Congress formally convened in the nation’s capital, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley was sworn in for his second six-year term serving Oregonians in the U.S. Senate.
In his first term as a U.S. Senator, Merkley made his mark by delivering local victories for Oregon, such as drought relief in the Klamath Basin, increased support for Oregon’s small ports, and passage of legislation implementing a major water-sharing agreement in Central Oregon. He emerged as a national champion for middle-class jobs, consumer protection and reform of the U.S. Senate. He also gained a profile as a staunch defender of the environment and a leading proponent of LGBT civil rights legislation.
As he was sworn in for a second term, Merkley vowed to continue these initiatives and to prioritize policies to grow and strengthen America’s middle class.
“Serving Oregon in the U.S. Senate is a great honor, and I am grateful and humbled by the opportunity to serve for a new term,” said Merkley. “The work we have ahead won’t be easy, but our goals are clear. We must create good, living-wage jobs that grow our middle class and provide a solid foundation for our families. We must take on the soaring cost of college and ensure that each and every American is able to get a high-quality, affordable education, from pre-K to college and beyond. We need to fight back against efforts to privatize or dismantle Social Security and Medicare, and pursue policies that will provide greater retirement security for all Americans. And we must continue the fight to reform what is so broken in Washington, D.C. and to make America work for working Americans.”
Notable first-term accomplishments include leading the fight to reform the Senate, which led to the first major Senate rule change in 38 years; authoring the Merkley-Levin amendment – also known as the Volcker Rule – which became one of the major components of the 2010 financial reform legislation and puts a firewall between hedge fund-style gambling and the traditional banking system; banning many of the predatory mortgage tactics, such as teaser rates and kickbacks for steering customers into subprime loans, that led to the foreclosure crisis; passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the Senate for the first time; and creating national programs to create jobs through low-cost loans for water infrastructure and rural energy efficiency retrofits.
Merkley also came through for Oregon in his first term, winning federal drought relief support for the Klamath Basin in 2011 and 2014; working with the U.S. Forest Service to create a steady supply of logs to the John Day mill, saving the mill and its jobs; blocking the elimination of Oregon’s vital rural post offices; passing legislation to implement better water-sharing practices and promote economic growth in Central Oregon; working to save Newport’s lifesaving Coast Guard helicopter; and using his position as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure strong support for dredging and maintenance at Oregon’s small coastal ports after years of underfunding.
“The last six years have shown that even in a gridlocked Congress, there’s a lot that can be done with hard work, perseverance, and community support,” said Merkley. “I’m excited to get to work for Oregon and our middle class in the new Congress.”