Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley announced his committee assignments for the 118th Congress, which he says he’ll use to deliver critical resources to Oregon and advance his work to provide opportunity and support to America’s working families.
Merkley will continue to be a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, including serving as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, including serving as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight; the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; the Senate Budget Committee; and the Senate Rules Committee. Merkley will also serve as the Co-Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
“From Oregon all the way to the halls of Congress, our fight to work across party lines to solve problems and deliver for working families never ends,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley. “My unique combination of committee assignments and Chairmanships gives me the tools to deliver critical wildfire and water resources to Oregon, tackle the effects of climate chaos, cement our global leadership in security and human rights, and help give working families the foundations they need to thrive. Working on behalf of the people of Oregon is the honor of my lifetime. I will fight every day to ensure that our ‘We the People’s government is restored and that it delivers the opportunity and support Oregonians in every corner of our state need and deserve.”
Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, considered to be one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee a decade ago so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation makes. In his first term as Chairman of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee – which funds the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Forest Service, among others – Merkley secured major investments in wildfire risk reduction and forest health in the 2023 funding bill. In the last two years, Merkley with the support of members of Oregon’s congressional delegation secured a total of 293 community-initiated projects for Oregon. Community-initiated projects will receive essential support needed to help meet critical needs in every corner of Oregon, including investing in wildfire and drought resiliency, affordable housing, health care, education, manufacturing, and much more, all while creating essential services and good-paying jobs.
On the Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight, Merkley leads the fight to save lives from environmental racism, deadly chemicals, and to curb out-of-control plastic production and pollution. In his first term with the gavel, Merkley convened historic hearings on environmental justice, plastic pollution, and banning asbestos.
Merkley was again appointed to the Senate Rules Committee, which has key jurisdiction over democracy reform and Senate rules. In 2022, the Senate came just two votes short in an attempt to force a talking filibuster on the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act– legislation Merkley played a key role in writing. This critical legislation would combat ongoing attempts by MAGA Republicans to capture our courts, pour massive sums of dark money in politics, suppress votes, gerrymander districts, and undermine the integrity of our elections infrastructure. Merkley will continue leading filibuster reform efforts to ensure the Senate debates and votes on big issues to protect our fundamental freedoms and unrig our government which benefits the most powerful and privileged.
“We’re facing a democratic crisis: dark money pouring into our elections, partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression efforts aimed at barring Americans from having a voice in our elections, and public officials who are working to line their own pockets instead of to serve their constituents,” said Merkley. “To make progress on protecting our democratic republic, the Senate needs an overhaul that makes it possible to debate and then actually vote on legislation. I wear the title of ‘Chief Filibuster Antagonist’ with pride and will continue my work to reform the broken filibuster and get the Senate back to working order.”
In the 118th Congress, Merkley continues to serve on the prestigious Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which plays a critical role in the development of the United States’ foreign policy and has jurisdiction over diplomatic nominations. Last year, Merkley’s bipartisan resolution condemning starvation as a weapon of war was unanimously passed by the Committee and the Senate. Merkley successfully led efforts to authorize sanctions on the Myanmar Oil and Gas Sector, a call Merkley has led since the January 2021 coup. Merkley took a leading role in encouraging peace talks that lead to the cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia. Merkley was one of the first members of Congress to call for sanctions against Juan Orlando Hernández for corruption and to encourage his identification as a specially-designated narcotics trafficker. And it was Merkley’s Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act which paved the path for the Biden administration’s request to arrest and extradite Juan Orlando Hernández today.
“Amid the war in Ukraine and humanitarian crises around the globe, now is the time for the United States’ global leadership,” said Merkley. “We need global cooperation to tackle our biggest challenges, including climate chaos, violent extremism, and disrupted supply chains. We can’t give all Americans the opportunities they deserve without strong, thoughtful foreign policy.”
Merkley also continues as Co-Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC). Established in 2000, the CECC is tasked with monitoring China’s compliance with international human rights standards and encouraging the development of rule of law in China. The CECC’s 2022 Annual Report provides the latest account of human rights abuses in China. As Chair of the CECC in 2022, Merkley led the Commission’s work to highlight China’s grave human rights abuses ahead of the Olympics and led calls for a diplomatic boycott. Merkley co-led, along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the historic passage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. Merkley also secured an extension of a ban on the export of crowd control weapons to Hong Kong, the establishment of a task force to monitor and address the impacts of China’s censorship and intimidation strategies, and various provisions to strengthen the United States’ relationship with Taiwan.
“The Chinese Communist Party has reinforced Xi Jinping’s grip on the levers of power in China, which continue to be weaponized against the universally recognized human rights of the people of China,” said Merkley. “The CECC will continue to work on standing against China’s assaults on fundamental rights, bolstering cooperation to hold China accountable, and protecting those fleeing persecution, facing transnational repression, fighting coercion, or fearing the destruction of their culture.”
As a member of the Senate Budget Committee for his entire tenure in the U.S. Senate, Merkley uses his seat to set the framework for national spending priorities with an emphasis on tackling climate chaos, the opportunity crisis, and protecting Social Security and Medicare for all Americans.
In an effort to inform his work on Senate Committees, Merkley holds town hall conversations for each of Oregon’s 36 counties each year – over 500 to date.