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
“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
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.