Jeff Merkley United States Senator
Incumbent Assumed office
January 3, 2009
Serving with Ron Wyden
Preceded by Gordon Smith 64th Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives In office
January 3, 2007 – January 2, 2009
Governor Ted Kulongoski Preceded by Karen Minnis Succeeded by Dave Hunt Member of the Oregon House of
Representatives from the 47th District
January 3, 1999 – January 2, 2009
Preceded by Frank Shields Succeeded by Jefferson Smith Personal details Born October 24, 1956
Myrtle Creek, Oregon
Political party Democratic Spouse(s) Mary Sorteberg Residence Portland, Oregon Alma mater Stanford University (B.A.)
Princeton University (M.P.P.)
Profession Budget and Policy Analyst, Congressional Budget Office Religion Lutheran – ELCA Website http://merkley.senate.gov
Jeffrey Alan "Jeff" Merkley (born October 24, 1956) is the junior United States Senator from Oregon. A member of the Democratic Party, Merkley was a five-term member of the Oregon Legislative Assembly representing House District 47, located in eastern Multnomah County within the Portland city limits. He also served as Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives.
Merkley was born in Myrtle Creek, Oregon to Darrell and Betty Merkley. He attended first grade in Roseburg before moving to Portland with his family. He graduated from David Douglas High School, obtained a bachelor of arts degree in International Relations from Stanford University in 1979, and earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University in 1982.
Early political career
After completing his master's in 1982, Merkley was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow, working at the Office of the Secretary of Defense on the security of American military technology. After his fellowship, he worked in the Congressional Budget Office, analyzing nuclear weapons policies and programs.
Merkley returned to Portland in 1991 to serve as executive director of Portland Habitat for Humanity. He also started the Walk for Humanity, initiated the Journey for Mankind, launched development of the Habitat Home Building Center, and initiated a pilot project for “YouthBuild” in which gang-affected youth built homes in their own neighborhoods. He served as Director of Housing Development at Human Solutions, where he worked to make available affordable housing complexes and launching Oregon’s first Individual Development Account (IDA) program that helps low-income families save money to buy homes, attend college, or start businesses. Jeff Merkley was President of the World Affairs Council of Oregon for seven years and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees.
In 1998, Merkley was elected as a Democrat to the Oregon House of Representatives to represent his east Portland district (now District 47). He succeeded Frank Shields, who moved from the House to the Oregon State Senate due to term limits. In its endorsement, The Oregonian predicted that Merkley was the most likely of several Democrats to "accomplish something positive in the Legislature." Following the 2003 session, he was elected Democratic leader, and after Democrats gained a majority in the Oregon House in the 2006 Oregon statewide elections, he was chosen (in a unanimous vote of the 31 incoming Democrats) to serve as Speaker of the House in the 74th Oregon Legislative Assembly.
During Merkley's tenure as Speaker, the Oregon House passed several pieces of legislation: it created a state "rainy day fund" (a savings account to protect public schools against an unstable economy); increased funding in Oregon public schools by 14 percent ($1 billion) and by 18 percent ($1.4 billion) in state universities; banned junk food in schools (effective 2009); expanded the Oregon indoor smoking ban; revised the Oregon Bottle Bill; outlawed discrimination by sexual orientation and gender identity in housing and in the workplace; and gave same-sex couples state-granted rights, immunities, and benefits.
On August 13, 2007, Merkley received the endorsements of Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski and former Democratic Governor Barbara Roberts. He was endorsed in December 2007 by the Oregon AFL-CIO, the state's largest labor federation. The union's leaders cited Merkley's 97% record of voting in the interests of working families, and his electability in a general election against the incumbent senator Gordon Smith. Merkley was the first federal candidate to be cross-nominated by the Independent Party of Oregon.
Merkley won the Democratic nomination to challenge Smith in 2008, narrowly defeating activist Steve Novick and four others in the Democratic primary. Given the difficulty of running against an incumbent senator, Merkley was initially thought to have only a moderate chance of unseating Smith. But in July 2008, a Rasmussen poll showed Merkley with a lead over Smith, albeit within the margin of error. By August, after strongly negative campaigning on both sides, Rasmussen reported that Merkley's support had deteriorated, with Smith taking a strong lead in the polls. Merkley's favorable rating was at 42%, while his unfavorable rating had risen to 45%.
Polls taken shortly before the election indicated that Merkley's standing had once again improved, with Merkley's 12-point deficit turning into a slight lead.
On election night, the Merkley-Smith race was too close to call, but media outlets including The Oregonian called the race for Merkley on the morning of November 6, and Smith conceded later that morning. Having defeated Smith by 3 percentage points, 49% to 46%, Merkley became the first person to unseat an incumbent Oregon senator since 1968. He formally resigned his seat in the Oregon House in a letter to Secretary of State Bill Bradbury on January 2, 2009. He was sworn as a Senator on January 6, 2009.
Merkley has accumulated a progressive record during his Senate career to date. Merkley became the first Democratic member of the Senate to announce that he'd vote against the confirmation of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, citing Bernanke's failure to "recognize or remedy the factors that paved the road to this dark and difficult recession." As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, Merkley became a leading force in the effort to pass the Wall Street reform bill. Merkley championed an amendment known as "Merkley-Levin" or the "Volcker rule" which banned high-risk trading inside commercial banking and lending institutions. In 2010, Merkley successfully included the Merkley-Levin amendment in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill during conference committee. Merkley also championed an amendment that banned liar loans, a predatory mortgage practice that played a role in the housing bubble and subsequent financial collapse.
He was a founding signatory of a mid-February 2010 petition to use reconciliation to pass legislation providing for a government-run health insurance program in the Senate. Merkley also championed legislation that provides new mothers with a private space and flexible break times to pump breast milk once they return to work. Merkley's breastfeeding amendment was included in the health care reform law and signed into law by President Obama in 2010.
In late February 2010, Merkley again made headlines when he unsuccessfully tried to persuade Republican colleague Jim Bunning of Kentucky to drop his objection to passing a 30-day extension of unemployment benefits for jobless Americans. Bunning replied, "Tough shit." A spokesman for Merkley claimed that the Oregon senator did not hear Bunning's remark at the time.
In late 2010, Merkley began circulating a proposal to his fellow Senate colleagues about the need to force Senators to filibuster in order to block legislation. In 2011, Merkley introduced a bill to reform the filibuster and help end gridlock in the Senate. He was joined by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa.
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- Committee on the Budget
- Committee on Environment and Public Works
- Subcommittee on Children's Health
- Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
- Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife
- Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
- Removing all combat troops starting right away and completing the redeployment in six to 12 months
- Eliminating permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq
- Engaging Iraq’s neighbors in a diplomatic effort to secure the peace, particularly Turkey, Iran and Syria
- Removing all American contractors from the country and replacing them with Iraqi contractors, and
- Directing our attention toward stronger engagement with the Iraqi Parliament and Courts
Merkley has publicly announced support for same-sex marriage and introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the Senate during the 111th United States Congress as S. 1584. BlueOregon, a progressive Oregon blog, commented on the suitability of Sen. Merkley to be lead sponsor of ENDA, noting that as Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Merkley had successfully guided Oregon's state version of ENDA, the Oregon Equality Act, to become law.
In 2010, Merkley cosponsored legislation to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), and allow gay Americans to openly serve in the military. In March 2011, Merkley cosponsored legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), legislation that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
Impeachment of Alberto Gonzales
Merkley and his wife, Mary, have two children, Jonathan and Brynne. Brynne appeared with Merkley in several campaign ads in the 2008 campaign.
- ^ Roots Web. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~battle/senators/merkley.htm. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
- ^ Sowell, John (December 19, 2006). "Morgan, Hanna will remain on Ways & Means Committee". The News-Review (Roseburg). http://www.oregonnews.com/article/20061219/NEWS/61219018/-1/news. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
- ^ a b Har, Janie (November 13, 2006). "With long hours and teamwork, the brainy guy can win the day". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on November 15, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20061115210451/http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/116339191710230.xml&coll=7. Retrieved February 23, 2007.
- ^ "Representative Jeff Merkley". New Jersey Citizen Action. http://action.njcitizenaction.org/c.omLZKeN2LzH/b.4390289/k.5E2D/Elected_Officials_Search/siteapps/advocacy/ElectedOfficialDetails.aspx?c=omLZKeN2LzH&b=4390289&eoid=ORH047MERJ. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
- ^ Jeff Merkley for Oregon. "Meet Jeff Merkley". jeffmerkley.com. Archived from the original on January 21, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080121055452/http://www.jeffmerkley.com/2007/09/meet_jeff_merkl.php. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
- ^ McNichol, Bethayne (November 7, 1993). "First 'Adopt-a-Home' gets joyous sendoff". The Oregonian. http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/InfoWeb?p_product=NewsBank&p_theme=aggregated5&p_action=doc&p_docid=0EB087F9068D1B33&p_docnum=10&p_queryname=4.
- ^ "Jeff Merkley biography". Oregon House of Representatives. Archived from the original on September 27, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060927122322/http://www.leg.state.or.us/merkley/bio.htm. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
- ^ Spicer, Oskar (November 3, 1995). "Housing advocates fear budget cuts doom low-income projects". The Oregonian. http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/InfoWeb?p_product=NewsBank&p_theme=aggregated5&p_action=doc&p_docid=0EB0892B621FC0F5&p_docnum=1&p_queryname=5.
- ^ Nkrumah, Wade (December 28, 1995). "Whose fund for housing should it be?". The Oregonian. http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/InfoWeb?p_product=NewsBank&p_theme=aggregated5&p_action=doc&p_docid=0EB0893BE390EA84&p_docnum=1&p_queryname=6.
- ^ a b "Nominate Merkley, Hansen". The Oregonian. April 13, 1998. http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:NewsBank:ORGB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=0EB08B41AE29E63F&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=8CE642B8CA5C4083BE84A2539D6E1A73. Retrieved January 29, 2008.
- ^ "Board of Trustees". http://www.worldoregon.org/more/board.php. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
- ^ Stern, Henry (February 25, 1998). "Term limits spur candidacy musical chairs". The Oregonian. http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:NewsBank:ORGB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=0EB08AC86CE90B5F&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=8CE642B8CA5C4083BE84A2539D6E1A73.
- ^ Staff, Oregonian (June 27, 2007). "Major Actions by 2007 Oregon Legislature". OregonLive.com. http://blog.oregonlive.com/oregonianspecial/2007/06/_the_democrats_regained_contro.html. Retrieved January 23, 2008.
- ^ Kulongoski, Roberts to Co-Chair Merkley for Senate Campaign – Jeff Merkley for U.S. Senate, Oregon
- ^ Steves, David (December 12, 2007). "Rep. Merkley gets backing of AFL-CIO". The Register-Guard. http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/InfoWeb?p_product=NewsBank&p_theme=aggregated5&p_action=doc&p_docid=11DACB873654A160&p_docnum=1&p_queryname=7. Retrieved January 24, 2008.
- ^ Walsh, Edward (May 21, 2008). "Merkley scores chance to take on Smith". The Oregonian. http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1211352909172240.xml&coll=7. Retrieved May 21, 2008.
- ^ Rasmussen Reports, July 16, 2008, Oregon Senate: Merkley tops Smith for the first time 43% to 41%
- ^ Rasmussen Reports, August 7, 2008, Oregon Senate: Incumbent Smith Regains Lead, Still Receives Under 50% Support
- ^ SurveyUSA, September 24, 2008, Results of SurveyUSA Election Poll #14432
- ^ Esteve, Harry; Noelle Crombie (November 6, 2008). "Jeff Merkley plunges into his new job in the U.S. Senate". The Oregonian. http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2008/11/merkley_declares_victory_thurs.html. Retrieved November 6, 2008.
- ^ Pope, Charles (January 2, 2009). "Merkley steps down as Speaker; next stop, Capitol Hill" (Article). Politics. The Oregonian. http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2009/01/merkley_steps_down_as_speaker.html. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
- ^ Chisholm, Kari (February 17, 2010). "Merkley calls on Reid to push public option via reconciliation". BlueOregon. http://www.blueoregon.com/2010/02/merkley-calls-on-reid-to-push-public-option-via-reconciliation.html.
- ^ Barrett, Ted (February 27, 2010). "Lone senator blocks unemployment benefit extensions". CNN International. http://edition.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/02/26/senate.jobless.benefits/.
- ^ a b Jeff Merkley for Oregon (November 13, 2007). "Ending the Iraq War". JeffMerkley.com. Archived from the original on November 23, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071123130235/http://www.jeffmerkley.com/2007/11/ending_the_iraq.php. Retrieved January 23, 2008.
- ^ [dead link]
- ^ http://www.responsibleplan.com/
- ^ Pope, Charles (June 26, 2008). "Some gay-rights advocates question Oregon senator's commitment". The Oregonian. http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/121445252542580.xml&coll=7. Retrieved November 21, 2010. "Merkley supports gay marriage."
- ^ 
- ^ Jeff Merkley (August 20, 2007). "Impeach Alberto Gonzales" (Press release). http://www.jeffmerkley.com/2007/08/impeach_alberto.php. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
- Senator Jeff Merkley official U.S. Senate site
- Jeff Merkley for U.S. Senate official campaign site
- Biography at WhoRunsGov.com at The Washington Post
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Voting record maintained by The Washington Post
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Congressional profile at GovTrack
- Congressional profile at OpenCongress
- Issue positions and quotes at On The Issues
- Financial information at OpenSecrets.org
- Staff salaries, trips and personal finance at LegiStorm.com
- Campaign finance reports and data at the Federal Election Commission
- Campaign contributions at the National Institute for Money in State Politics
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Collected news and commentary at The New York Times
Oregon House of Representatives Preceded by
Member of the Oregon House of Representatives from the 47th District
Political offices Preceded by
Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives
Party political offices Preceded by
Minority Leader of the Oregon House of Representatives
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Oregon
Most recent United States Senate Preceded by
United States Senator (Class 2) from Oregon
Served alongside: Ron Wyden
Incumbent United States order of precedence Preceded by
United States Senators by seniority
Oregon's current delegation to the United States Congress SenatorsRon Wyden (D), Jeff Merkley (D) Representatives Other states'
delegationsAlabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • Nevada • New Hampshire • New Jersey • New Mexico • New York • North Carolina • North Dakota • Ohio • Oklahoma • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Rhode Island • South Carolina • South Dakota • Tennessee • Texas • Utah • Vermont • Virginia • Washington • West Virginia • Wisconsin • Wyoming
Non‑voting: American Samoa • District of Columbia • Guam • Northern Mariana Islands • Puerto Rico • U.S. Virgin Islands
United States Senators from Oregon Class 2 Class 3 Representatives to the 111th–112th United States Congresses from Oregon (ordered by seniority) 111th Senate: R. Wyden | J. Merkley House: P. DeFazio | E. Blumenauer | G. Walden | D. Wu | K. Schrader 112th Senate: R. Wyden | J. Merkley House: P. DeFazio | E. Blumenauer | G. Walden | D. Wu | K. Schrader
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