Senator Merkley visits Tillamook for Town Hall

Senator Merkley visits Tillamook for Town Hall

By:  Will Chappell

Senator Jeff Merkley visited Tillamook for a town hall on January 14, 2023, fielding questions from a crowd of around 50 citizens who gathered in the Tillamook High School Cafeteria.

Merkley discussed a wide variety of topics and struck an optimistic tone about the possibility for bipartisan efforts in the coming legislative session.

"It could be a very interesting year," Merkley said, "or maybe it will turn into an opportunity for everyone to realize that Democrats and Republicans need to work very closely together."

Merkley discussed the crisis that is being created by the shortage of healthcare workers, especially nurses.

"We've gotta expand our nursing program," Merkley said.

He also pointed to the recently passed Respect of Marriage Act when a student asked a question about the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision and potential further erosion of civil rights in the country. 

That act will require states to recognize marriages performed in other states, even if that state would not allow such a marriage. 

He pointed to the Federalist Society and their decades long campaign to influence the judiciary as a major driver of the Dobbs decision and other recent conservative legal victories.

Merkley touted the large number of infrastructure projects funded by the last congress and said that he thought the new congress will be busy getting those projects going.

"I think the big focus is going to shift to implementation," Merkley said, "we’ve really maxed out the construction capacity in the country right now."

Merkley said that he will be introducing legislation to remove the 60-vote majority rule in the Senate and reintroduce the talking filibuster, making obstructionism more difficult.

Another piece of legislation Merkley is hoping to advance in the new congress is a ban on hedge fund ownership of residential housing.

"I believe houses should be homes for families," Merkley said, "not Wall Street business enterprises."

He noted that hedge funds buying large blocks of residential housing had proven a strong investment vehicle but was driving the cost of homes and rents up.