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Sen. Jeff Merkley
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Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley has spent his lifetime in public service, and his entire career has been animated by a simple philosophy: that each of us has a responsibility to make the community, the nation, and the planet a better place.

He got his start as an intern for Oregon's U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield, and went on to serve as a national security analyst, first for the Pentagon and then for Congress. After returning to Oregon with his wife Mary, Jeff led Habitat for Humanity and worked with low-income families to rebuild neighborhoods and help scores of Oregonians purchase their first home. Following a lifelong interest in building bridges internationally that began as a high school exchange student in Ghana and later brought him to work in India and Mexico, Jeff became President of the World Affairs Council in Portland, expanding the organization's educational programs.

The son of a sawmill worker, Jeff spent his early years in Myrtle Creek and Roseburg, Oregon, where his parents impressed upon him the importance of honest work, good schools, and strong families. Jeff worked hard, earned scholarships and became the first in his family to go to college. He attended Stanford University and later earned a Masters in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. As a 19-year-old Senate intern from a working-class background, Jeff never imagined that he would someday have the privilege of serving in the U.S. Senate himself, and he is committed to ensuring that everyone has the same opportunity to live their dreams that he has had.

Jeff took his fight for opportunity and working families into the state legislature in 1998, and in 2006, Jeff led a band of new leaders to take control of the Oregon House and end the gridlock in state government. As the first Democratic speaker in sixteen years and with only a two-seat majority, Jeff brought Democrats, Republicans and citizens together to make real progress addressing Oregon’s challenges. Jeff's session as Speaker was described by the Oregonian as "Oregon's most productive in a generation."

In 2008, Oregonians took note of his thoughtful, solutions-oriented policy-making style and made Jeff the first Oregonian to defeat an incumbent U.S. Senator in over 40 years.

A member of the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, Jeff has been a strong voice for health care reform, particularly pushing to expand access to affordable insurance to small businesses and working families. He has emerged as a leading proponent of capturing the clean energy revolution to strengthen the American economy, and serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee.

From his first days in the Senate and on the Banking Committee, Jeff has forcefully argued for strategies to help families at risk of losing their homes and to correct the failures that led to the financial crisis. He was also honored to take the baton from the late Senator Ted Kennedy as the lead sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and has made full equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans a signature priority.

Jeff and his wife, Mary, a professional nurse, have two children, Jonathan and Brynne, and an Airedale terrier, Sadie.

Blog Entries by Sen. Jeff Merkley

It's Time to Get Serious in Washington. Serious About Jobs

(21) Comments | Posted February 12, 2013 | 9:09 AM

The verdict is in. This last Congress, the actions of Washington have been part of the problem, not the solution, damaging efforts to put our economy back on track.

Here's why. Thanks to Congress, we've seen one fiscal cliff after another, including crises over the debt limit, the funding of...

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This Is Our Best Chance to Fix Wall Street

(6) Comments | Posted May 18, 2012 | 3:27 PM

The recent $2 billion loss by JP Morgan demonstrates clearly that Wall Street hasn't learned anything from the economic meltdown of 2008. They continue to make high-risk bets, putting our economy at risk.

Let's be clear: There's nothing wrong with high-risk trading, but if the bets go bad, only the...

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The Wild, Off the Mark Arguments Against the Volcker Rule

(92) Comments | Posted April 3, 2012 | 3:07 PM

Big banks are formulating a host of arguments -- wild, off the mark arguments -- aimed at dismantling the Volcker Rule firewall between loan-making, customer-serving banks and high-risk hedge funds.

That firewall is essential for a stable banking system. When hedge funds blow up, and they regularly...

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We Need a Strong Volcker Rule

(37) Comments | Posted February 14, 2012 | 5:25 PM

Three years ago we experienced the greatest financial implosion since 1929. High stakes gambling and risky bets gone bad on Wall Street left our financial system near collapse and our economy in shambles. This crisis had many causes -- all man-made.

And it affected every last one of us, not...

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It's Time for Our Troops to Come Home

(93) Comments | Posted June 9, 2011 | 3:33 PM

In the aftermath of September 11th, our nation went to war in Afghanistan. We had three goals: to dislodge the Taliban government, destroy al Qaeda training camps, and to bring to justice those who masterminded the attacks.

Thanks to our men and women in uniform, the Taliban government was...

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Kill the GOP Plan to Kill Jobs

(73) Comments | Posted March 3, 2011 | 5:02 PM

Millions of Americans remain unemployed and countless families are losing their homes to foreclosure. So why are House Republican leaders proposing to torpedo the economy?

We all agree that reducing our deficits is essential for long-run economic health, preparing the path for growth and prosperity. But instead of recognizing deficit...

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Elizabeth Warren Is the Right Person for the Job

(42) Comments | Posted September 14, 2010 | 7:56 PM

For too long, tricks and traps in mortgages, credit cards, and other financial transactions have stripped wealth from working families. This is insane. Our policies should build the wealth and success of families, not undermine them.

That's why one of the most important provisions of the Wall Street reform bill...

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It's Time to End Risky Gambling on Wall Street

(152) Comments | Posted May 17, 2010 | 10:26 AM

When historians look back at the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed, they will fix their blame, in part, on the invention of complicated financial products that hid massive risks and spread them throughout the economy. They will record how Wall Street chased short-term gains at...

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One Senator v.s. Working Americans

(18) Comments | Posted February 26, 2010 | 6:59 PM

Last night, I joined my Democratic colleagues on the Senate floor in an effort to pass an extension of unemployment assistance to millions of Americans who have been hurt by the current recession. This bill would have also fixed the cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians and extended access...

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Words Designed to Kill Reform - This Time It's Wall Street

(26) Comments | Posted February 11, 2010 | 1:04 PM

We may be in the middle of a huge snowstorm here in Washington D.C. but there is another storm brewing on Capitol Hill. Master manipulator Frank Luntz is at it again, with a memo for the lobbyists and their allies in Congress who want to derail financial reform...

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A Dangerous Proposal

(50) Comments | Posted January 21, 2010 | 5:08 PM

Today one of my Republican colleagues introduced a proposal to brazenly overturn sound scientific work done by our nation's leading public health experts and prohibit the Environment Protection Agency from doing its job to protect the health and welfare of the American people. This extremely damaging proposal is a political...

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An Imperfect Stride Towards Justice

(192) Comments | Posted December 24, 2009 | 10:46 AM

Dear Friends,

At 7 am this morning, a short time ago, I voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It passed.

If you are like me, it is hard to respond with uninhibited celebration. It is hard to celebrate when you are...

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The Republican Plan to Block Health Care Reform

(101) Comments | Posted November 19, 2009 | 2:07 PM

Last night, we took a huge step forward towards passing health care reform. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled details of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the CBO score stating that the bill will reduce the budget deficit by $127 billion dollars over the first 10 years...

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Clean Energy is an Easy Choice

(56) Comments | Posted October 26, 2009 | 6:53 PM

The past few months the political debate inside and outside the beltway has largely been centered on health care reform, but I wanted to take a moment and turn the discussion to the big battle looming on the horizon.

Congress is gearing up to take on another critical challenge...

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A Historic Victory for Health Care Reform

(215) Comments | Posted July 15, 2009 | 1:07 PM

Greetings! I wanted to take a minute and give you an update on the current status of health care reform in the Senate. But, before I begin, I want to commend you all for keeping the pressure on your Representatives and Senators to support a public health insurance option. It's...

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Words Designed to Kill Health Care Reform

(1040) Comments | Posted May 7, 2009 | 7:23 PM

Over and over again, I hear from Oregonians that we need real health care reform that provides every American with access to quality, affordable care. That is why Congress and President Obama are so focused on this issue.

Of course there are folks in the insurance and hospital industries, from...

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How a Bill Becomes a Job

(14) Comments | Posted April 1, 2009 | 12:28 PM

Last time I posted here, Congress was embroiled in a vigorous debate about whether to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Opponents were fighting tooth and nail against the bill deeming certain parts of the package "wasteful spending." One of the programs opponents were calling wasteful was funding to...

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Creating Jobs Is Not "Wasteful"

(476) Comments | Posted February 5, 2009 | 8:15 PM

This week the Senate is debating whether to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a bill we absolutely need to help arrest our economic freefall. Economic policies championed by the Bush Administration largely focused on tax cuts for the big corporations and the wealthiest among us. Not...

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George Bush Launches Attack on Access to Contraceptives

(7) Comments | Posted July 24, 2008 | 3:46 PM

Time is running out for the Bush administration, but that isn't stopping President George Bush from trying to roll back a woman's right to choose before he leaves office.

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new rule that would force hospitals and clinics to...

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Why I Support the Responsible Plan to End the War

(6) Comments | Posted March 18, 2008 | 4:29 PM

Five years ago, Gordon Smith and George Bush led our country in war. It's been a disaster. Nearly four thousand military men and women have given their lives, and billions of dollars have been squandered.

The plan was authored by distinguished military experts, including Major General Paul Eaton (U.S. ARMY...

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