Oregon Senators: A Year in Review

Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden (right to left). Both senators have been especially active recently, since the election of President Trump. Photo by Matt Stollar.

Since Donald Trump was elected President, there has been a significant amount of legislation put forward, much of it being controversial. The pressure has been high for senators to please the President while also attempting to stay true to their constituents in their home states. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Oregon’s Democratic senators, have both stood for what they, and many of their constituents, believe in.

Ron Wyden has served in the Senate since 1996, and before that he served in the House of Representatives from 1981 to 1996. He is reportedly well respected by Democrats and Republicans alike, and often works with Republicans to create bipartisan bills such as a bill to address workforce shortages through career and technical education. Since the election of Trump, he’s been very outspoken about issues concerning DACA, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Net Neutrality. Wyden voted against the tax reform bill after nothing was added to it to protect the DREAMers or CHIP, and is quoted saying, “The House’s flawed, slapdash bill fails to give families and states long-term security and peace of mind.” Wyden was a vocal advocate against the repeal of Net Neutrality as well, calling it an “early Christmas present to ‘Big Cable,’” and has said more than once that these rules of equality were “essential protections for consumers” that have been rolled back. Wyden and Merkley were instrumental in writing a bill to protect and enhance Oregon’s land conservation and recreation. The bill passed unanimously on December 21, 2017.

Jeff Merkley, the junior senator from Oregon, served in the House of Representatives from 1998 to 2008, when he was elected to the United States Senate. Merkley is well known and admired by activists in Oregon and around the country. He routinely utilizes ‘moveon.org’ in an effort to acquire signatures on petitions. Like Wyden, Merkley is very outspoken about the DREAMers and demands a long term solution for the children of DACA. Merkley has commented, “Every day, more than 100 DREAMers—young Americans who know no other home—lose their status and are put at risk for deportation. That’s unacceptable.”

What else have these two senators been involved in over the past several months? In November, Wyden and Merkley slammed the White House for failing to aid communities who had been devastated by the wildfires. On November 30, Wyden introduced a bill to protect US wildlife and other natural resources from climate change. The next month, on December 7, Wyden, Merkley and 33 other bipartisan senators reached out to majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to try to urge them to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program. This program supports things such as public schools, public roads, emergency services and many other necessary programs that serve over 775 counties across the United States. On December 18, 2017, Ron Wyden sponsored Senator Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) bill to end federal prohibition on marijuana, making him the first senator to officially endorse the bill. Over Merkley and Wyden’s time in office, and since the election of Donald Trump, they have continued to stand up for their views time and time again, and have stayed true to the beliefs and needs of their constituents.

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