In The News

US Senate unanimously passes bill urging China to resolve Tibet dispute

Radio Free Asia The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a bill urging the Chinese government to engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama or Tibetan leaders, without any preconditions, to resolve the China-Tibet dispute. The bipartisan Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act notes that the dispute between Tibet

Senator Jeff Merkley holds townhall in Arlington

Times Journal Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley swept through Eastern Oregon on a three-day tour, holding townhalls in nine counties. Starting on Friday, May 17, Oregon’s junior Senator started his townhall tour in Malheur County, and then went to Harney, and Grant County. On Saturday, Merkley held townhalls in Baker County,

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley holds town hall meeting in Seneca

Blue Mountain Eagle PRAIRIE CITY — U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., met with Grant County residents at Seneca School on Friday, May 17, to respond to questions, discuss issues of local concern and share his recent funding accomplishments for the region. The town hall was held in the school’s gymnasium

Sen. Merkley does the right thing

In the lore of Congress, there is a fabled observation that among congressmen, “There are show horses and there are work horses.”** Show horses are quick to seek a headline. Work horses are senators who work the phones and the cloakroom and know how to count the votes.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley is a work horse. His latest project is to amend Senate rules to curtail the filibuster’s proliferation. It sounds like a quixotic venture, but Merkley has gained allies and collaborators in both parties.

The Senate may change its rules at the beginning of a new Congress. That will occur in January. And the key knowledge is that a vote on rule change may not be filibustered.

What we know today as a filibuster used to be known as extended debate. It was originally seen as a courtesy. Unlike the much larger House of Representatives, which controls debate through rules that govern the discussion of each bill, the Senate’s more leisurely discussion “was designed for senators to hear each other out,” notes Merkley. “Now that courtesy has changed into a procedural objection to a vote that is paralyzing the Senate.”

Merkley notes that in 2010 the Senate failed to adopt a budget, and it did not consider hundreds of bills passed by the House. Also, hundreds of executive department nominations were not taken to a vote, and likewise for judicial nominations.

“Basically, we had very little that could be considered deliberation on the floor of the Senate.”

This is unglamorous work. It is essential if the Senate hopes to be more than dysfunctional. Sen. Merkley’s work is absolutely on target.

**Senate Historian Don Ritchie says the first publication of this observation was in The Washington Post  (Jan. 14, 1947). The observation was attributed to Rep. Frederick C. Talbott  (D-Maryland).

Merkley’s plan for millionaires

WASHINGTON — Lower taxes for millionaires or billions to shore up Social Security? That’s the choice U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., is trying to force with a proposal he offered on Thursday. Merkley proposed the idea in response to President Barack Obama’s package of tax cuts, which would prevent taxes

One Senator’s modest proposal: Force Senators to actually filibuster

The problem for those who want to do away with the filibuster and restore some functionality to the Senate is that some argue it requires a two thirds vote to make it happen — a virtual impossibility given today’s Senate math. (Update: See below.) But Senator Jeff Merkley, one of

Republicans dare Democrats to reform the filibuster

Mitch McConnell’s threat to filibuster literally everything Democrats want to do until Democrats and Republicans agree to a compromise on the Bush tax cuts can be read as a power play, but it can also be read as a dare: At this point, Republicans are sure that they can abuse

Merkley wants to change Senate

WASHINGTON — To an outsider, the machinations of the U.S. Senate can appear incomprehensible and largely pointless. That’s also true for some of those on the inside, including Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., although he’s much more diplomatic in his criticism. Merkley is one of several junior Democratic senators urging Senate