VIDEO RELEASE: Merkley Pushes Biden Administration to Address Western Wildfires, Affordable Housing Crisis, Urgently Needed Water Infrastructure in American Jobs Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley—the only member of the Oregon delegation to serve on a congressional Appropriations Committee since Senator Mark Hatfield—urged Biden administration officials during yesterday’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearing to ensure that the American Jobs Plan will include a transformative investment in affordable housing across America; assist Western states as they work to recover from and prevent catastrophic wildfires; and provide water infrastructure funding for states, Tribes, territories, and disadvantaged communities.

“Every American—regardless of the color of their skin, their zip code, or their income—deserves to be healthy and safe,” said Merkley, who serves as Chair of the powerful Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. “But it’s impossible to thrive when your community is ravaged by wildfires, there aren’t any affordable places to live, or there isn’t reliable access to clean drinking water. As we set out to rebuild our country and create jobs in the wake of this pandemic, delivering and investing in these core pillars must be a top priority.” 

Testifying before the Committee were U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

Merkley has been a leader in advocating for the forest management policies, climate action, and recovery assistance communities throughout the West need to get back on their feet following a series of catastrophic wildfires. He has also long championed the Water Infrastructure and Innovation Act (WIFIA)—a program he created in 2013 to establish a financial mechanism within the EPA to provide access to lower-cost capital for investments in water infrastructure.

Video of the Senator’s remarks and questions is available here.