Merkley will look out for us in Congress

Merkley will look out for us in Congress

Freshman senator a member of important committees

By:  Editorial Board

Jeff Merkley is sort of like the U.S. economy: He's at the bottom, working his way up. In Merkley's case, the bottom has to do with the U.S. Senate's seniority system. But being a freshman senator hasn't curbed his determination to help improve Oregon's economy.

Merkley has a seat at the table for some of the most important issues coming through the Senate. He has been appointed to four committees:

  • Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which will deal with whatever health-care reform comes out of Congress.
  • Environment and Public Works, which will tackle highways and carbon cap-and-trade legislation.
  • Banking, Housing and Urban Development, which will handle everything from Wall Street regulation to transit.
  • Budget, which sets the framework for overall federal spending.

As he told the Statesman Journal last week, "I'm going to be very busy."

With a gloomy economic forecast looming for the rest of this decade, Merkley is focused on helping boost the housing sector. That would greatly benefit Oregon, as many of our manufacturing, construction and related jobs are tied to housing.

Merkley noted that mortgages have become so convoluted that many borrowers don't know who owns or operates their loans. But it benefits all sides if a borrower and a lender can renegotiate the loan terms to avoid foreclosure. The borrower gets to stay in the house; the lender makes at least some return on its loan.

Government, Merkley said, can have a positive role in encouraging the renegotiation, and possibly the reissuance, of loans.

As a freshman senator, Merkley doesn't have the influence of senior senators. But it's good to know he's looking out for Oregonians.