Senator Merkley on USPS facility, fossil fuels and medical debt


 Senator Jeff Merkley spoke to NewsWatch 12 today about his plans to keep the Medford USPS facility a distribution center, his concern for fracked Canadian gas pipeline and the medical debt of Americans.

After months of concern for the status of the Medford USPS facility and its employees, Congress is now trying to pass legislation preventing USPS from using government funds or their personal funds from downgrading USPS distribution centers in Medford, Eugene and some in Georgia.

In a letter signed by Oregon senators, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, as well as Southern Oregon Representatives Val Hoyle and Cliff Bentz, to the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, they expressed concerns that a downgrade from a distribution center to processing center would negatively impact the communities they serve.

“We’re looking to see if we can use an amendment in a coming spending bill to be able to essentially say that they can’t use our federal taxpayer monies or their own revenues from stamps, if you will, to downgrade these facilities,” said Merkley.

Merkley told NewsWatch 12 that the downgrade in facilities would slow first-class mail, negatively impact small businesses and put seniors and other individuals that receive medicine in the mail.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is voting tomorrow on an expansion of a fracked Canadian gas pipeline through Washington state and Oregon.

Five senators, the governors of both Oregon and Washington state, and three district attorneys have spoken against the expansion.

Senator Merkley said the expansion would be the carbon equivalent of putting an extra 644,000 cars on the road every year in addition to Oregon and Washington state trying to move away from the use of fossil fuels.

Merkley said the pipeline will, “contribute significantly to climate chaos. I mean, we know in Oregon what that chaos looks like in terms of lower snowpack and less water for our farmers and ranchers and forest fires and forest fire smoke.”

The senator is also working on Medical Debt Relief Act. It would make it so that all medical debt would be removed from a credit report.

“Billions and billions of dollars of debt on the credit reports that is making it very hard for families to go forward,” Merkley said. “Whether they have to buy a car or they’re striving to buy a home. Uh, we just penalize people throughout their life goal is to get all medical debt out of the credit reporting system.”

He wants to see the debt removed so that people will not fear getting medical assistance because of the cost and not see it follow people for years of their life.