In the News

December 2010
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
Washington Post: Republicans dare Democrats to reform the filibuster
November 2010
Bend Bulletin: Merkley wants to change Senate
The Oregonian: Talking about the filibuster
Beaverton Valley Times: Merkley visits after-school program, helps solve homework debate
The Oregonian: Bill banning 'crush videos,' co-written by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, headed to President Obama's desk
The Oregonian: Sen. Jeff Merkley, small business reps oppose tax breaks for wealthiest
October 2010
My Central Oregon: Merkley applauds news EPA requirements for bigger vehicles
Politico: Senators seek to halt foreclosures
Daily Journal of Commerce: Merkley calls for investigation against Ally Financial
Dow Jones: US Lawmaker Asks Administration To Investigate Mortgage Lenders
September 2010
The Hill: To fix economy, put middle class first
The Coos Bay World: Merkley visits, talks with residents
The Oregonian: Oregon's Jeff Merkley working to stop 'crush videos' that show animal torture
August 2010
The Oregonian - Guest Column: Mosque: Don't blame friends for acts of enemies
Willamette Week: Jeff Merkley
Medford City Examiner: Senate advances legislation to reduce childhood obesity and strengthen youth nutrition
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