At his Town Hall meting yesterday at Klamath Community College, Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR) renewed his vow to keep fighting on two big causes.  The first one is filibuster reform:


Merkley, D-Ore., pledged to continue his vocal fight for filibuster reform in the Senate despite the fact that his efforts fell victim to a compromise deal brokered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Klamath Falls Mayor Todd Kellstom introduced him as one with deep Oregon roots who had gained insight into a better-functioning legislature as an intern for former Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Ore.

Describing the senatorial dysfunction, Merkley said, “One little objection on Monday can waste the entire week, including the weekend. Folks should have to stand up before the American people and their constituents. The silent filibuster is destroying our legislature and the paralysis has infected our nation.” - Herald & News, 4/3/13

Earlier this year, Merkley along with Senators Tom Udall (D. NM) and Tom Harkin (D. IA) pushed for filibuster reform rules that included the "talking filibuster" that Senator Rand Paul (R. KY) showcased recently:


Rather, the goal was the restoration of the filibuster as it was historically known—as a “talking filibuster” that requires a dissenting senator to speak his objections, hour after hour, into the congressional record.

That’s what Kentucky Senator Rand Paul did Wednesday, after announcing to the Senate, “I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court,”

The freshman Republican’s filibuster of the Brennan nomination lasted from 11:47 Wednesday morning until 12:39 Thursday morning, clocking in at just under thirteen hours. - The Nation, 3/7/13

The other issue Merkley has vowed to keeping fighting for is revising the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United:
When Ben Sellers of Klamath Falls asked how to address the issue of money in politics, Merkley discussed reversing Citizens United, the controversial Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited financial contributions to political campaigns.

“A huge pool of dark money is unhealthy for the people,” said Merkley, who used an anecdote of calling every available voter when running for election as a state representative. -Herald & news, 4/3/13

Citizens United is already starting to play a role in the 2014 elections both on a local level:


Josh Mandel is one of the first politicians in the U.S. to get money from Citizens United for the 2014 election cycle -- and it was quite a bundle for both parties.

The political action committee for Citizens United gave Mandel $11,500, according to the PAC's web-site. That's more than 10 percent of the $101,000 Citizens United gave to 18 campaigns for the first quater of the 2014 cycle.

And for Mandel, who is seeking re-election as Republican state treasurer, it's a financial boost for campaign coffers which contained just $218 at the end of 2012. - The Columbus Dispatch, 4/2/13

And on a national level:


Citizens United Political Victory Fund contributed $101,000 in the first quarter to 18 candidates running in state and federal races nationwide, an indication it plans to help defend those candidates from primary challenges in 2014.

The group maxed out for both the primary and general campaigns of Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Steve Stockman (R-Texas).

And Reps. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), Mich Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) all received the maximum contribution, $5,000, to just their primary campaigns.

For Reps. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) and John Mica (R-Fla.), the group only contributed $1,000 to their primary campaigns, and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) received only $2,500 for his primary campaign. Rep. Justin Amash received $5,000 toward his 2010 primary debt.

Citizens United PVF also contributed $5,000 each to the leadership PACs of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Steve King (R-Iowa). Scalise and Griffin were floated as potential Senate candidates but declined to run, while King is a likely contender for Iowa's open Senate seat. - The Hill, 4/2/13

Merkley also renewed his call to end too-big-to fail:
“A prosecution-free zone is unacceptable. Lady Liberty has a blindfold,” Merkley said.

In the recently released Senate budget, Merkley pushed for an amendment meant to facilitate the criminal prosecution of U.S. financial institutions that break the law, regardless of size.- Herald & news, 4/3/13

The Senate passing Merkley's amendment could be sign that it might be the beginning of the end of Too Big To Fail:


A funny thing, wonderful in its own small way, happened last week.

Amidst an endless series of votes on amendments to a federal budget bill, the United States Senate voted 99-0 in favor of an amendment to end subsidies to too-big-to-fail financial institutions.

The stated purpose of the amendment, introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and David Vitter, R-Louisiana, is to “end ‘too big to fail’ subsidies or funding advantage for Wall Street mega-banks (over $500 billion in total assets).”

This 99-0 vote is a harbinger of things to come — if the public keeps ratcheting up pressure.

Another amendment, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, that would facilitate the criminal prosecution of U.S. financial institutions that break the law, regardless of size, passed by on a voice vote.

It is true that the Brown-Vitter and Merkley amendments were attached to the budget resolution, which does not have the force of law, and that the Senate and House of Representatives budget resolutions are in any case not going to be reconciled into a single resolution that passes both houses.

But that shouldn’t cause us to lose sight of the importance of what happened in the Senate last week. No Senator was willing to stand up on behalf of the Wall Street behemoths. That’s because they feel the growing public demand for Congress finally to act to break up the big banks. A growing number of them, on both sides of the aisle, are so disgusted with Wall Street abuses that they now genuinely believe in the need to address the too-big-to-fail problem. - Counter Punch, 3/28/13

Merkley is a true blue progressive who needs to stay in the Senate so he can continue his fight to break up the banks, reverse Citizens United and make the Senate work.  Please contribute to his 2014 re-election campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:54 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Koscadia, PDX Metro, and Daily Kos Oregon.

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