Merkley Tapped for Leadership Post, Will Join Senate Foreign Relations Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley announced today that he has been appointed Chief Deputy Whip of the Senate Democratic Caucus and will also join the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 115th Congress beginning in January.

As a member of the newly constituted Democratic leadership team, Merkley will bring strong relationships with grassroots progressive groups and a reputation for digging deep on policy. He also brings experience winning back a majority — as minority leader in Oregon’s House of Representatives, Merkley engineered a Democratic takeover in 2006, becoming Oregon’s first Democratic Speaker of the House in 16 years.

Merkley will also serve on the prestigious Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which plays a critical role in the development of the United States’ foreign policy and has jurisdiction over diplomatic nominations including the Secretary of State.

“I am honored to join the leadership team and help carry the fight for good living wage jobs, a secure retirement, and opportunity for all Americans,” said Merkley.  “Now, more than ever, billionaires and special interests are looking to stack the deck in their favor at the expense of the rest of us.  We have big battles in front of us, and I’m ready to fight for our vision of a ‘We the People’ nation. 

“I’m also looking forward to serving on the Foreign Relations Committee at a time of substantial international upheaval and national security concerns,” Merkley continued.  “Some of the biggest challenges we face as Americans are international, like climate change, violent extremism, and globalization, and require global cooperation. We can’t give all Americans the opportunities they deserve without a strong, thoughtful foreign policy.”

In joining the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Merkley is returning to his foreign policy roots.  Earlier in his career he worked in the Pentagon and then as an analyst of strategic nuclear arms programs for Congress.  Later he ran the World Affairs Council in Oregon. Merkley has a master’s degree in international economic development from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and has studied and worked abroad in a number of countries including Ghana, Mexico, and India.

Merkley will continue to sit on the Senate’s Appropriations, Budget, and Environment and Public Works Committees.  While he will no longer serve on the Senate Banking Committee, Merkley will continue to be an outspoken voice for consumer protections and Wall Street reform.

“Too many Americans lost everything due to the unrestrained greed of Wall Street,” said Merkley. “Together, we have worked to close the Wall Street casino, to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and to eliminate predatory mortgages and other tricks and traps designed to exploit consumers.  I remain committed to fighting to prevent Wall Street from taking advantage of American families and small businesses.”