In the News

March 2011
Portland Tribune: Merkley asks Obama to release oil from petroleum reserve
February 2011
The World: Fight for timber funds continues, Merkley tells crowd at town hall
Albany Democrat Herald: Merkley talks jobs at town hall
Gazette Times: Merkley swings through valley
KOHD: Breast Feeding Equipment Repeal
KTVZ: IRS Allows Breast-Feeding Equipment Deductions
Bend Bulletin: Merkley: End violence or aid stops
January 2011
Register Guard: A failure to communicate
Register Guard: Restore health to housing
Register Guard: Reforming the filibuster
Medford Mail Tribune: Merkley works to stem the tide of foreclosures
The Hill: Merkley unveils plan to stem tide of foreclosures, help struggling homeowners
The Oregonian: DeFazio, Wyden, Merkley decry VA Roseburg process
Associated Press: Lawmakers Cheer EPA's Biomass Break
New York Times: Reform and the Filibuster
December 2010
The Oregonian: While assembling gifts, reassemble Senate rules
Washington Post: Sen. Jeff Merkley: 'This isn't a question of filibuster or no filibuster'
The Daily Astorian: 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).

Bend Bulletin: Merkley’s plan for millionaires
Washington Post: One Senator's modest proposal: Force Senators to actually filibuster
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