Jeff Merkley

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Jeff Merkley


Jeff Merkley is a Democratic member of the United States Senate, representing Oregon.

He is married to Mary Sorteberg.

Merkley/Hatfield relationship

Merkley’s public service began as a 19-year-old intern with Oregon’s former Senator, Mark Hatfield. He was elected as a Democrat to Hatfield's old Senate seat, 33 years later in 2008.[1]

Senator Merkley payed tribute to Senator Mark Hatfield, who passed away in August 2011, in a eulogy to the US Senate. Jeff Merkley described Mark Hatfield, as mentor. In 1976 Merkley went to meet Hatfield aide Jerry Frank to intern for Mark Hatfield. In 2007 Merkley asked Hatfield to swear him in as speaker of the Oregon House. When Merkley came to the US Senate chamber he asked for Senator Hatfield's old desk.[2]

Education/early career

Jeff Merkley studied international relations at Stanford and worked in India and Mexico, including a project to build and operate an environmental camp for Mexican children.

After earning a graduate degree in Public Policy at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Merkley worked as a national security analyst at the Pentagon and at the Congressional Budget Office, contributing, he hoped, to the dialogue on responsible management of nuclear weapons.

Activism

In 1991 Merkley returned to Oregon to lead Portland’s Habitat for Humanity where he led the neighborhood in shutting down Portland’s worst crack market, developed the Habitat Home Building Center, and launched a pilot project to establish Portland Youthbuilders, a program dedicated to helping gang-affected youth get back on their feet.

Merkley subsequently took his interest in affordable housing to Human Solutions. As Director of Housing Development, Merkley launched Oregon’s first individual development account program (IDA) which helped low-income families buy homes, start businesses and send their children to college.

Merkley later served as President of the Oregon World Affairs Council, expanding the K-12 education program and launching an International Speakers Series that has brought dozens of distinguished leaders to Oregon such as Mikhail Gorbachev and the Dalai Lama.

Political career

Merkley won his first campaign for State Representative in 1998. He was elected Democratic Leader in 2003 and Speaker in 2007.

As Oregon’s House Speaker, Merkley emphasized replacing bitter partisan warfare with a culture of bipartisan problem solving. The result was what many termed the most successful session in decades. The legislature increased education funding, expanded access to affordable prescription drugs, passed landmark environmental and energy legislation, established domestic partnerships, cracked down on predatory payday and title lending, and created Oregon’s first ever Rainy Day fund.

Senate

In the US Senate Merkley has released a nationally recognized plan to eliminate overseas oil by 2030 by boosting deployment of electric vehicles, increase travel options and improve infrastructure, develop alternative transportation fuels and reduce the use of oil to heat buildings. To take on the high-risk Wall Street trading that got us into the financial crisis, Merkley worked with Senator Carl Levin of Michigan to include in the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act new limits on risky trading by banks. Merkley worked to end deceptive retail mortgage lending practices, and led successful efforts to pass a ban on both hidden steering payments to reward selling consumers high-risk and high-cost home loans, and on prepayment penalties, which locked people into those bad loans. Merkley also successfully included a provision in the 2010 health care reform law that ensures new mothers have the time and space to pump milk at work.

Senator Merkley has the led the charge to make the Senate more functional by reforming Senate rules to prevent gridlock and promote debate. Most recently, Senator Merkley has fought successfully to keep rural post offices open, and sponsored a law that allows for small businesses to raise capital online.

Merkley serves on the Appropriations Committee; the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; the Environment and Public Works Committee; and the Budget Committee.[3]

2018 State of the Union Address

Several Democrats, including Jeff Merkley, brought illegal immigrants[4] to the 2018 State of the Union address:

America's Future Now Conferences

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Jeff Merkley was on the list of speakers at the 2009 America's Future Now conference, which was organized by the Institute for Policy Studies, and Democratic Socialists of America dominated Campaign for America's Future.[6]

Blue Green Alliance

The Blue Green Alliance sponsors the annual Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference. The 2010 conference was held from May. 4-6, 2010.

Conference speakers included:[7]

21st Century Democrats

21st Century Democrats is a political organization that has stood for Progressive causes for over 20 years. Founded in 1986 by Senator Tom Harkin, Texas Agriculture Secretary Jim Hightower, and Congressman Lane Evans, 21st Century Democrats has helped elect progressive politicians such as U.S. Senator Tim Johnson, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. Its three main goals are to help elect progressive candidates, train young people about grassroots organizing, and lastly, to continue to support our elected officials after Election Day "through our comprehensive progressive network".

The mission of 21st Century Democrats is to build a "farm team" of progressive populists who will be the future leaders of the Democratic Party.[8]

The organization supported Merkley in 2008.

21st Century Democrats endorsed Jeff Merkley for Senator from Oregon in 2014.[9]

J Sreet endorsement

In 2008 Merkley was one of several successful newcomers endorsed by JStreet PAC.

"I was so excited to learn about JStreet during my campaign this year. Coming to Washington now as a Senator, it’s great to know that there’s such strong political support for sensible policies to achieve a secure and peaceful Middle East.”

He received $93, 462.[10]

The socialist infiltrated, anti-Israel "two state solution" JStreet PAC endorsed Merkley in his 2014 Senate run from Oregon. [11]

JStreet endorsed hi again in 2016.

He has been strong ally of J Street and an outspoken proponent of a two-state solution since taking office. JStreetPAC proudly supported Merkley in his successful 2008 and 2014 campaigns for Senate and we are proud to endorse him again in 2020.[12]

Endorsing "Progressive" Candidates

On September 23, 2010, Merkley sent an email to supporters in which he requests donations for "six progressive candidates in tough races who aren't afraid to stand up to the big Wall Street banks and the corporate machine." He states that the 2010 election offers a choice "between giving power to extreme radical Republicans, or strengthening progressive voices in the Senate." Also in his email, he states that the candidate that receives the most donations ($5 minimum) will receive the maximum allowed donation from his Opportunity and Renewal PAC. The six candidates for U.S. Senate Merkley is endorsing are:[13]

Vietnam delegation

U.S. Sen. Al Franken is part of a Senate delegation that will travel to Vietnam July 2010.

The group will "look into environmental remediation of dioxin and the joint funding of medical services for people with disabilities, and meet with Vietnamese government officials to discuss education initiatives, labor issues and trade relations."

Other Senators on the Vietnam leg of the trip are: Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Jeff Merkley of Oregon).[14]

China visit

In 2011, Merkley was part of a bipartisan group of 10 senators that met with China’s senior leadership, including Vice President Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to succeed Hu Jintao next year as China's next President and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister.

Merkley had visited China for the first time 14 years before.

The topics were trade, jobs and economic issues, including U.S. complaints that China is manipulating its currency to make U.S. imports more expensive. Other talks focused on clean energy, international security and human rights.

"The world needs its two largest economies to work together,” Harry Reid said in a statement. “We have to communicate and build mutual trust. Our meetings in China helped improve that relationship."

Merkley said he saw both the promise and the problem that China poses when it comes to economic matters and jobs. Fourteen years ago, he said, you could find dirt roads just beyond the limits of China’s major cities. Today, the roads are both smooth and large, a testament to China’s huge investments in new infrastructure. The county is spending roughly 10 percent of its gross domestic product to build roads and bridges, rail lines and airports. The U.S., but comparison, spends about 2 percent of its GDP.

Wind farms are sprouting in many areas as are gleaming new high rise apartments. All of it build to serve a rapidly expanding middle class.

That is good, Merkley said. “But the jury is still out on if it can be sustained.”

He also noticed a serious effort to develop clean energy, though Merkley said it’s unclear whether the primary reason is for the environmental benefits or the potential that the China can sell products overseas.

Yet another difference from 14 years ago, Merkley said, is how China is liberalizing its rules on religion. Merkley went to Easter service in one of China’s registered churches which have multiplied in recent years. Fourteen years ago, he said, he could not find open churches.

In addition to Merkley and Harry Reid, Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Charles Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Frank Lautenberg and Michael Bennet made the trip along with Republicans Richard Shelby, Mike Enzi, and Johnny Isakson.[15]

Filibuster reform

The Communications Workers of America is to make filibuster reform a top cause and they're trying to bring the rest of the union movement along. The union reiterated that goal in post-election comments.

"The 2012 election makes the reform even more paramount," it said. "Seven Democratic senators-elect - Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Kaine (Va.), Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) - have all already pledged to Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., to support rules reform. And Maine's Independent candidate, former Gov. Angus King won on a platform included filibuster reform as a major campaign issue.

"The American people want their elected officials to debate and address the major issues of our time and to move past obstruction for obstruction's sake," added CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson.[16]

Endorsements

Planned Parenthood

Merkley received $7500 in lobbying funds from Planned Parenthood in 2008.

Council for a Livable World

The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Jeff Merkley in his successful 2008 Senate run as candidate for Oregon.[17] He has also been previously supported by the Council.[18]

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Council for a Livable World has endorsed Jeff Merkley because he is an electoral winner who is also an expert on nuclear weapons and acutely aware of the dangers. In 1982, Merkley was selected as a Presidential Fellow and served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. There he worked on verification for theater nuclear arms agreements, assisting the U.S. delegation to NATO and coordinating a committee on technology transfer to other countries. His next assignment was at the Congressional Budget Office, where he prepared reports on the Trident II missiles installed on our nuclear-powered submarines and the B-1B bomber program.
For the past decade he has been immersed in Oregon politics but remained involved in national security issues by serving as president and then a board member of the World Affairs Council of Oregon. In the United States Senate, Jeff Merkley will have the knowledge and capability to be a leader on nuclear and national security matters.
Jeff Merkley was born in 1956 in Myrtle Creek, Oregon and now lives in Portland. He was the first member of his family to attend college. He received a BA in international relations from Stanford University and a Master's in public policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He interned for former Republican Senator Mark Hatfield, a patron saint of arms control. He returned to Oregon in 1991 to become executive director of the local Habitat for Humanity, building low cost homes for the struggling families of Oregon. He then became Director of Housing Development at Human Solutions, where he again focused on affordable housing.

In 1998, he entered politics with a successful campaign for the state House of Representatives. Elected House Democratic Leader in 2003, he became Speaker when the Democrats took control of that body.
Jeff Merkley opposes building a new generation of nuclear weapons and says that he "strongly supports the idea of the United States leading an international effort to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles." He has endorsed the Kissinger-Shultz-Nunn-Perry vision of moving toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
He rejects deployment of National Missile Defense, pointing out that missile defenses "cannot stop either low-tech enemies who have other delivery mechanisms such as suitcase bombs or sophisticated enemies who can overcome expensive and complex sensor and intercept technologies with much simpler countermeasures." He opposes proposals to place weapons in space and instead endorses an international ban on space weapons. Merkley urges the Senate to approve the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to greatly expand nuclear non-proliferation programs.
Merkley opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2002. Just two days after the invasion of Iraq, when public fervor was high, Merkley took a bold stand on the floor of the Oregon House of Representatives in opposition, saying, "I have not been and am not today persuaded that Iraq was a significant threat to the United States or that the war we fight today is the best strategy to fight terrorism or the wisest application of our superpower resources."
Merkley will be an important progressive leader in the Senate. His background on nuclear weapons, his knowledge of national security issues and his political experience clearly indicate that we need him in the U.S. Senate.[19]

CLW fundraiser

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Abby Rockefeller and Lee Halprin hosted a party to benefit Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation! Wednesday, October 21, 2009 104 Irving Street • Cambridge, MA 02138

At the party, Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, a nuclear policy expert, and Sarah Sewall of Harvard Kennedy School, a foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama, will lead the discussion.[20]

Council for a Livable World, 50th Anniversary

Jeff Merkley, Council for a Livable World

On June 6, 2012, Council for a Livable World, along with its sister organizations Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Council for a Livable World’s PeacePAC, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their founding by Leo Szilard in 1962.

An evening celebration was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Congressman Barney Frank acted as the Master of Ceremonies and, in the process, received a lifetime achievement award from former Rep. Tom Downey, a member of the Council’s Board of Directors. The Robert F. Drinan Peace and Human Award was presented to former Representative and PeacePAC Chairman David Bonior and the late Edith Wilkie, a longtime advocate and leader for peace and justice.

Six sitting Senators joined CLW in an afternoon national security forum in the U.S. Capitol to speak on the issues Council has been working on for 50 years. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) all spoke eloquently on these pressing issues.[21]

Council for a Livable World has a long and close relationship with each of the Senators. They have all been leading advocates in the Senate for sensible national security policies, such as reducing the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction, reigning in the bloated defense budget, and bringing an end to the War in Afghanistan.
Senator Merkley praised the Council’s work on the New START treaty and advocacy for a swift drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan. Senator Merkley has been a Senate leader on this issue. He focused in particular on his work on Afghanistan, noting that the legislative efforts of those opposed to the war have given space to the President to drawdown troops more quickly than he otherwise might have. Senator Merkley also lamented the extreme abuse of the filibuster, and outlined his efforts with Senator Tom Udall to reform the process.[22]

2014 endorsement

The Council said of Merkley;

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In 2007, when Council for a Livable World announced our endorsement of Jeff Merkley in his first Senate run, Council board member and former U.S. Senator Gary Hart (D-CO) had this to say about Merkley:
Senator Merkley has proven his commitment to progressives by being a leader for sensible national security policies, fair wages and the environment.
"Jeff is the kind of Senator Oregon needs - one who is sincere in his opposition to the Iraq war and dedicated to finding a workable solution…He is unwavering in his commitment to ending the fiasco in Iraq, and he understands that far more will be accomplished there through political means, not military force…Jeff took a firm stand against this war from the very beginning. He made his voice heard then and he continues to speak out against it now. We need more of that in the U.S. Senate."
Council supporters rallied behind Merkley’s bid for the Senate, and since his election in November 2008, he has not disappointed. Senator Merkley has consistently earned a perfect 100% rating on Council for a Livable World’s scorecard. In the Senate, Merkley has pushed for expediting troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and coordinated with the Council to gather signatures urging the President and Congress to bring the troops home by the end of 2014. Sen. Merkley also strongly opposes indefinite military detention and was a solid supporter of New START.[23]

Most Valuable "Progressive" senator

Writing in The Nation, John Nichols, named Jeff Merkley to the "The Progressive Honor Roll of 2012", as Most Valuable Senator:

Among the new generation of Democratic senators elected in the past several years, none has been so steadfastly determined to forge progressive solutions as Oregon’s Jeff Merkley. A frequent ally of stalwarts like Sanders and Tom Harkin, Merkley has also been willing to strike out on his own to pick big fights for big reforms.
On the Banking Committee, he has pushed hard for crackdowns on Wall Street abuses and for aid to Americans struggling to keep their homes. As a key member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, he’s battled to increase spending on vital infrastructure projects and worked to prevent the closing of rural post offices.
Above all, Merkley is fighting to “Fix the Senate Now.” Increasingly frustrated by the Republicans’ “fake filibusters,” which have blocked action on popular legislation, Merkley teamed up with Senator Tom Udall to develop a way to end these abuses. Under their plan, the filibuster would be restored as an honest and transparent tool whereby senators who dissent must do so publicly. Think Jefferson Smith, Jimmy Stewart’s iconic character in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington—who, much like Merkley, hailed from a Western state and refused to compromise his principles to get along in the Senate.[24]

Filibuster "reform"

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, discussing the fight over filibusters, said the job of senators is "to advise and consent, not defy and extort," as Republican senators have done. "The Constitution does not allow a minority of one house of Congress to hold the other two branches of government hostage."

Trumka discussed the issue at a July 10, 2013 meeting at the Center for American Progress where he spoke alongside Kathleen von Eitzen of Battle Creek, Mich.

Von Eitzen is one of a majority of Pandera workers who want to unionize their firm with the Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers. Without a functioning NLRB, von Eitzen and her co-workers can't seek to start bargaining with Pandera management, despite having won the union representation vote at Pandera more than a year ago by 11 to seven votes. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who also spoke Wedneday at the Center for American Progress meeting with Trumka and von Eitzen, said filling posts at the NLRB is also a key to economic recovery.

"In this past recession, 80 percent of the jobs that were lost were living wage jobs and only 40 percent of those created are living wage jobs," the senator said. "For workers to be able to share in the vast wealth of this nation, they have to be able to come together and bargain, just as von Eitzen and her colleagues want to do. The NLRB is a key piece of that picture."[25]

Honduras letter

On Thursday, May 23, 2013, U.S. Senator Cardin (D-MD) circulated a Senate sign-on "Dear Colleague" letter to Secretary of State John Kerry addressing deepening concerns about Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras.

The letter states that violence and impunity for state security forces in Honduras has reached intolerable levels and cites concerns related to extrajudicial killings, linkages to death squads, and increasing militarization of civilian law enforcement. The letter also raises the concern that State Department certifications intended to ensure that U.S. foreign aid supports the rule of law in Honduras may contradict the reality on the ground.

The letter asks State Department to:

  • provide Congress with a detailed assessment of the efficacy of current Honduran government efforts to address this issue as mandated by FY12 Appropriations language;
  • conduct a detailed review of specific State Department actions to help ensure that no U.S. funds are being used to support police implicated in human rights violations; and
  • make every reasonable effort to help ensure that Honduras' upcoming November 2013 elections are free, fair and peaceful.[26]

In addition to Cardin, the letter was cosigned by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mark Udall (D-CO), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).[27]

Link the Chain Rally

On July 2nd, 2013, the Oregon Alliance for Retired Americans partnered with Jobs with Justice and the Oregon AFL- CIO to hold a rally in downtown Portland to educateall who attended the importance of preventing cuts to Social Security.

The attendees heard from Ed Hall representing Sen. Merkley and Bob Tackett from the Northwest Labor Council. Both discussed the importance of building strong, vocal coalitions to fight cuts in Social Se curity and both pledged their support. The possible changes proposed in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) by President Obama could drastically reduce Social Security benefits for years to come. Steve Weiss gave examples of the pain caused, pain growing year after year.[28]

ARA PAF endorsement, 2014

The Alliance for Retired Americans Political Action Fund endorsed Jeff Merkley in 2014.[29]

Peace Action support

In the 2014 mid terms, six of the eight pro-peace candidates in battlegrounds that Peace Action prioritized won election: Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Al Franken (MN), Gary Peters (MI), Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and House members Mike Honda (CA) and Rick Nolan (MN). [The two who lost Bruce Braley (IA) and Carol Shea-Porter (NH).[30]Peace Action has supported Jeff Merkley since 2008;[31]

We helped send Sen. Merkley to the Senate in 2008. Since then he has become one of the Senate's leading voices in favor of ending the war in Afghanistan. In January of 2009, when he was sworn in, there was hardly any sign of Senate opposition to the military strategy in Afghanistan. In his first term, Sen. Merkley has organized two letters to the president supporting withdrawal, signed by more than two dozen senators. In late 2011, his amendment requiring a plan for accelerated withdrawal passed the Senate by a voice vote—the first piece of withdrawal legislation to pass either the House or the Senate.
In 2008, when candidate Jeff Merkley decided to run against sitting Republican Gordon Smith, he faced a highly competitive race. At Peace Action West, we mobilized our supporters to raise funds for his campaign. We sent an organizer who spent the last month of the campaign organizing around the clock, leading the effort to get out the vote in a key part of the state. After days of counting ballots, Merkley won by 3 points, becoming the first person to unseat an incumbent Oregon senator since 1968.

When Sen. Merkley’s Afghanistan amendment passed, he thankedd Peace Action West as one of the groups that made the victory possible, stating, “Yesterday’s vote shows that a smart, engaged, fierce grassroots effort can make a difference.” In 2012, he passed another amendment in a bipartisan 62-33 vote. Peace Action West is proud to support Sen. Merkley for reelection in 2014.

SANE Act returns

On February 27, 2014, Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced S. 2070, the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE Act) of 2014. The bill would save U.S. taxpayers about $100 billion over ten years by scaling down, delaying, or canceling a variety of nuclear weapons programs and facilities. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a companion version in the House, H.R. 4107, the REIN-IN Act.[32]

Soros money

Two liberal politicians supportive of Bill de Blasio’s Agenda, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also received campaign donations directly from George Soros.[33]

Kafoury connection

Jeff Merkley was close to Portland socialist Gretchen Kafoury.

Kafoury fundraiser

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In 2014 Steve Rudman, Gretchen Kafoury, Martha McLennan, Ed McNamara, William White, Bill Kowalczyk, Kate Allen, Joan Cook and Jean DeMaster got together to fundraise for Merkley's Senate campaign.

Gray’s Landing Grand Opening

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The Gray’s Landing Grand Opening at Portland’s South Waterfront in January 2013, was a "smashing success". City of Portland Commissioner Nick Fish served as Master of Ceremonies, and the event was joined by many dignitaries, including Senator Jeff Merkley, Bud Clark, Gretchen Kafoury - a veritable “who’s who” in affordable housing! [34]

Mourning Kafoury

Saturday, March 14, 2015, Portland, OR – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley made the following statement upon learning the news of Gretchen Kafoury’s passing.

“I'm deeply saddened by the passing of my friend, Gretchen. She was the heart and soul of Portland's affordable housing community. She cared deeply about those who were struggling to get a simple, decent roof over their head, and did everything she could to make that happen, inspiring us all.”[35]

Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus event

Steve Holecko November 6, 2017:

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With two Progressive Champions, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Our Revolution President Nina Turner. Great event this afternoon at the CCPC Office!

Tristan Rader. Great work putting this on!

Ethan Goodman. Great work folks!! Keep the progress going

"Progressive Agenda"

Merkley, de Blasio

Signers of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's May 12, 2015 launched The Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality included Sen. Jeff Merkley.[36]

Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015

S 299, the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015, principal sponsors are Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.[37]

By May 20, it had accumulated 33 co-sponsors, including 26 Democrats - Sheldon Whitehouse, Tom Udall, Dick Durbin, Thomas Carper, Amy Klobuchar, Barbara Boxer, Jack Reed, Debbie Stabenow, Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy, Benjamin Cardin, Chris Coons, Dianne Feinstein, Jeanne Shaheen, Sherrod Brown, Mazie Hirono, Brian Schatz, Tammy Baldwin, Ed Markey, Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill, Ron Wyden, Tim Kaine, Al Franken, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, Martin Heinrich . [38]

Voted against Iran sanctions

In February 2015, with 18 votes for and four against, the US Senate Banking Committee approved the plan to intensify sanctions against Iran. The plan was presented to the Senate Banking Committee by Robert Menendez and Mark Kirk. However, the execution of those sanctions was postponed until 24 March 2015. Senators Sherrod Brown, Jack Reed, Jeff Merkley, and Elizabeth Warren of the Democratic Party voted against the draft of that plan.[39]

Iran Thesis

The Senator who fronted a campaign against new sanctions on Iran earlier this year has since 1979 been advocating that the United States take a soft line on Iran due to his belief that America’s global power and influence are waning, according to a copy of the lawmaker’s 235-page college thesis obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) emerged in January as one of the leading Senate Democrats who massaged the press on behalf of the Obama administration and pressured his colleagues to kill new Iran sanctions that were supported by a bipartisan majority of lawmakers.

Merkley’s public campaign helped stall the new sanctions measure, indefinitely delaying congressional efforts to exert greater economic pressure on Tehran.

As a Stanford University student during the Carter era, Merkley embraced the inevitability of American decline and declared that the United States must coddle Iranians because of it.

Foreign policy experts consulted by the Free Beacon said that the 1979 thesis opens what they described as a troubling window into the senator’s current thinking on the Iranian crises.

"Merkley shows his knee-jerk reaction is to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory," said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq. "Unfortunately, it seems, Merkley as senator remains wedded to Carterism, even as he should realize its cost, and its alternative."

Michael Ledeen, a freedom scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), said Merkley focuses on "American decline and American wickedness."

Merkley begins his thesis by declaring that the United States has abandoned its core values in pursuit of its national interests—and that Americans are in denial about this.

"Many who believed that America would be the force for freedom that it claims to be, have been bitterly disillusioned," he writes. "Despite comments and criticisms from many parts of the world, Americans have been slow to recognize the possibility of a fundamental contradiction between American traditional political values and the support of tyrannical governments."

Merkley denies that America has been a force for freedom and good in the world.

"American citizens wonder how criticisms of American policies can be taken seriously when the United States has brought many improvements to numerous countries, including countries where civil liberties are suppressed," he writes.

While "these arguments … can be convincing as generalities," "in detailed analysis, however, they are less persuasive," he writes.

America’s predicament, according to Merkley, is that it is submerged in an economic tailspin.

"As the American public and government observe a relative American power decline caused by the success of the European Economic Community and OPEC [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries], by slower economic growth, and by the declining political value of military force … the American government may endeavor to sustain American economic and political power by increased use of political and economic leverage in developing countries," Merkley writes.

America’s immoral foreign policy and declining power fostered policies that are "neither ethically nor pragmatically supportable," according to Merkley.

One such problematic policy cited by Merkley is the introduction of Western values that were "very different from Iranian customs and that at times contradicted Islamic teachings."

"A fair number of Iranian officers and advanced technical personnel received training in the United States," Merkley writes. "Although the cultural impact of this training upon the participants cannot be precisely determined, at a minimum, the experience probably increased their understanding of and ability to identify with Western culture, and in so doing, may have altered the participants attitude toward aspects of Iranian culture or Islamic values."

"These military related personnel, as well as other Americans on business or pleasure ventures, took to Iran tastes and habits that were very different from Iranian customs and that at times contradicted Islamic teachings," he writes.

Merkley goes on to argue that U.S. involvement in Iran directly fostered the country’s anti-American policies, as well as the shah’s brutal crackdown.

"The United States was directly responsible for the shah’s return to power, and the shah’s policies diverged from the objectives of other groups that sought to influence Iran’s policies in the post-World War II period," Merkley writes.

"Various groups sought political pluralism, national control of Iranian resources, a reduction of Western presence in Iran, and an emphasis upon Islamic values," he states. "By placing the shah, who did not share those goals, back in power, the United States increased the probability that the Iranian government would sponsor a set of policies that would include opposition to Communist influence, the suppression of political forums, high military expenditures, and a capital intensive, technologically sophisticated, development program."

FDD’s Ledeen said that Merkley wrongly "buys into the big myth" that U.S. intelligence agencies fostered political turmoil in Iran.

While Merkley repeatedly admits that he cannot prove America is responsible, he still insists that American intelligence agencies fostered unrest.

"Although strict recounting of available evidence does not demonstrate that CIA activities in Iran significantly strengthened the shah’s government, logical hypotheses (which, although based on available evidence, cannot be proven), suggest that the CIA probably did significantly augment the capability of SAVAK [Iranian secret police] and its predecessor," he writes.

Former Pentagon official Rubin said that Merkley’s writing shows that he is a "hypocrite" who is out to shield "the enemies of pluralism."

"The shah was a flawed leader but, while bashing American policy and downplaying the Soviet's Cold War ambitions, Merkley makes a larger error: Those rising up to lead the Islamic Revolution were actually America's co-conspirators," Rubin said.

"It was, as the shah put it, the red against the black; the communists against the conservatives and clergy," Rubin explained "And while the Shah cracked down, in hindsight we see that he did so to protect the chance for a pluralism. That Merkley now shields the enemies of pluralism and popular desire shows not only that he was a mediocre academic, but that he's a bit of a hypocrite as well."

Merkley’s argument reveals his core beliefs about America being a force for bad in the world, Rubin said.

"Hindsight is 20/20 but shows that the Shah's regime, while flawed, was far more progressive than what came next," Rubin said. "Ironically, Iranians find the benefits of America more persuasive than the junior senator from Oregon."[40]

Indivisible event

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Oregon District 2 Indivisible presents UNITING FOR JUSTICE: A Community Forum Against Hate, Oppression & Bigotry with Guest Speaker Senator Jeff Merkley, D-OR. We’ll provide opportunities for you to connect and put your activism to work in our Rogue Valley Community.

October 22, 2017, The Historic Ashland Armory 208 Oak St Ste 200 Ashland, Oregon.

Progress Iowa Corn Feed fundraiser

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, talked about climate change in his speech at the Progress Iowa Corn Feed fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Des Moines.

Unapologetically progressive policies on health care, education and infrastructure can address America’s rising challenges of income inequality and technological change — and win elections for Democrats in 2018 and 2020.

That’s the political thesis offered by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat who headlined the Progress Iowa Corn Feed in downtown Des Moines, amid a busy Iowa visit that will almost certainly be read as a signal of potential presidential aspirations.

“Shouldn’t we fight for an America where the son or daughter of a millworker or a fast-food worker or a fireman … has the same opportunities as the son of a CEO?” Merkley asked at the corn feed, where he shared the stage with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden, and Rep. Dave Loebsack. “Shouldn’t we have a principle in America that nobody who works full time lives in poverty?”

In an interview Sunday morning ahead of the event, Merkley argued that Democrats could succeed first by thwarting the agenda of Republican President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress and then by offering an alternative that shifts the burden of essential services from businesses and individuals to the government and drives new public investment in key areas.

“There’s a yearning for common sense strategies on education and infrastructure and health care and a reaction to the very divisiveness of Trump,” Merkley said. “I think there’s going to be a real desire for healing, to remember that we’re indivisible, that we’re in this together.”

Merkley spoke forcefully for new public infrastructure spending not only on roads, bridges, passenger rail and ports but also on rural internet expansion and even thinning Western forests to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires like those now burning in Oregon, Montana and elsewhere.

He also backs a universal government-funded health care system — he uses the term “Medicare for all” — which, he argues, would deliver better care, administrative efficiency and, above all, peace of mind for Americans.

“That should be our goal for the health-care system: peace of mind. If a loved one gets sick, they get the care they need and they don’t go bankrupt.”

The second-term senator is making the most of his first trip to Iowa, which, of course, is traditionally the first state to hold a presidential nominating contest and a place that values face-to-face interactions with candidates and politicians.

Immediately upon arriving Saturday night, he attended a reception thrown by the Iowa Democratic Party. After the corn feed, he met with Polk County Democratic activists and some of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ top supporters from the 2016 presidential campaign at separate events. (He was the lone incumbent senator to endorse Sanders’ presidential candidacy.)

On Monday, he’s scheduled to chat with Drake University students at a meeting organized by the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement, followed by a get-together with business leaders at the Greater Des Moines Partnership.[41]

“After watching Sen. Merkley stand up to President Trump’s agenda in Washington and hearing Mayor Buttigieg’s passionate advocacy for our shared progressive values on the national stage, we know that Iowans will be excited to hear their thoughts on how our country can move forward,” Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic said in a statement.[42]

THE 2017 OREGON SUMMIT

Clean Energy Jobs: Price on Pollution, Investing in Solutions

Resolution to Honor Civil Rights Hero Fred Korematsu

February 6, 2017, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced a resolution honoring Fred Korematsu, who challenged the internment of Japanese Americans.

Wyden and Merkley said the resolution honoring Korematsu’s work and advocacy of the civil rights and liberties of all people is timely, given the president’s executive order establishing a Muslim ban.

"Fred Korematsu’s brave advocacy for the civil rights of 120,000 Japanese Americans remains a timeless example of courage that resonates today and every day,“ Wyden said. “I am committed to fighting for the continued advance of civil rights he spent his life defending, and against those who would betray both the law and our history to impose an unconstitutional religious test on immigrants."

"Heroes like Fred Korematsu demonstrate the importance of fighting fiercely for our core American values, even when it is hard,” said Merkley. “His story reminds us that the time is always right to stand up for what is right. We must keep fighting for the freedom and equality that define our nation, and ensure that the Statue of Liberty continues to stand as a beacon of hope around the world."

The resolution is cosponsored by Senators Mazie Hirono, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Brian Schatz, Sherrod Brown, Sheldon Whitehouse, Maria Cantwell, Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Tim Kaine , Patty Murray, Chris Coons, and Dick Durbin.

A broad coalition of advocacy organizations support the resolution, including the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee & Defending Dissent Foundation, Demand Progress, Free Press Action Fund, Restore the Fourth, The Yemen Peace Project, and Fight for the Future.[44]

"Ideas conference"

Democratic Party luminaries and 2020 presidential mentionables gathered May 2017 for an “ideas conference” organized by the Center for American Progress, the Democratic establishment’s premier think tank.

Its stated purpose was to focus not on “what could have been,” said CAP Vice President Winnie Stachelberg introducing the day, but on “new, fresh, bold, provocative ideas that can move us forward.”

Convened in a basement of Georgetown’s Four Season’s Hotel, the posh watering hole for Washington lobbyists, lawyers and visiting wealth, the conference quickly revealed how hard it is for Democrats to debate the future when Trump is taking all of the air out of the room.

Virtually every speaker dutifully invoked the theme of the day: resistance is not enough; Democrats must propose what they are for. Each then proceeded to rail at one Trump folly or another, calling on those assembled to join in defending what was achieved over the last eight years.

Senator Jeff Merkley, the sole Senator to support Sanders in 2016, indicted the trade and tax policies that give companies incentives to move jobs abroad, called for major investments in infrastructure, in the transition to renewable energy, and in education, including debt free college and new apprenticeship programs. Sanders’ call for Medicare for All is still off the table, however, with most focused on defending Obamacare against the Republican assault.

Even on economic reform, Trump hijacked the discussion. CAP released a new report for the conference – “Towards a Marshall Plan for America” – calling for “large scale permanent public employment and infrastructure investment program” – that would move towards a jobs guarantee for working age Americans. For CAP to call for a jobs guarantee – even though it dilutes it in the text – is a big, bold idea worthy of real attention.

Sen. Merkley was buried on the economics panel. Bernie Sanders wasn’t even invited.[45]

Single Payer Bill

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unveiled Wednesday September 13, 2017 a new version of his plan to give everybody government-run health insurance, potentially opening a new chapter in the ongoing debate over how to make health care in the U.S. more affordable and available.

The plan calls for an overhaul of American health insurance with a souped-up, more generous version of Medicare replacing nearly all private health insurance ― and government exerting far more control over the cost of medical care. It would arguably be the most ambitious social welfare initiative in U.S. history, but Sanders told HuffPost in an interview Tuesday that he believes America is ready for it.

“The American people are catching on to where the Republicans are coming from, they see the limitations of the Affordable Care Act and they’re looking at the alternatives,” Sanders said. “And this is a rational alternative.”

That roster of co-sponsors includes a who’s-who list of potential Democratic presidential candidates for 2020, including Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Also backing the bill are Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Al Franken of Minnesota, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall of New Mexico, Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.[46]

Philippines connection

Message from Merkley

Vancouver, WA -- One hundred human rights leaders from dozens of cities across the U.S. rallied on December 9 2017 to launch a national campaign against “fascist dictatorship in the Philippines” and form the US International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-US). Days after, Philippine President Duterte received Congress approval for a one year extension of martial law in the whole island of Mindanao. Participants of the ICHRP-US gathering vowed to strengthen their advocacy for human rights in the Philippines, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Senator Jeff Merkley.[47]

Following his meeting with Duterte, President Trump, who has often boasted about his determination to tear down President Barack Obama’s legacy, seemed to align himself with Obama in his view of the Philippines’ role in US foreign policy when he stated, “It is a strategic location, the most strategic location. And, if you look at it, it’s called the most prime piece of real estate from a military standpoint.”

Trump’s comments are reflected in Senate Bill 1055, titled the Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017. While the bill prohibits the export of “defense articles or services, or issuing licenses for export of any item controlled by the United States for law enforcement, riot control, or related purposes, for use by the Philippine National Police or associated entities,” it makes exceptions for “the exportation of defense articles or the provision of training for maritime law enforcement, criminal justice programs, human rights training, or counter-terrorism programs for such police.” Furthermore, the bill allows the president, after giving notice to Congress, to waive the bill’s restrictions if it is “in the US national interest.”

Problematic as the bill is, ICHRP considers it a step in the right direction and will continue its advocacy in relation to Senate Bill 1055, pushing the US to end its funding of the drug war in the Philippines.

, “Know that your voices are not in isolation: I have joined Senate colleagues in demanding that President Duterte stop his campaign of murder…As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will continue to push for demonstrated improvements in President Duterte’s human rights record and an end to extrajudicial killings.”

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Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, a sponsor of Senate Bill 1055, expressed support for the people of the Philippines against Duterte’s violence. In a personal statement read by one of his staff members at St. Luke’s, Merkley stated “Know that your voices are not in isolation: I have joined Senate colleagues in demanding that President Duterte stop his campaign of murder…,” said U.S. Senator Merkley in a personal statement read by his office during the US International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines convening. “As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will continue to push for demonstrated improvements in President Duterte’s human rights record and an end to extrajudicial killings.”[48][49]

CHRP-PNW delegation

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April 2018, with "President Trump’s unabashed support and even explicit admiration for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte", members of ICHRP-PNW, Drew Elizarde-Miller of People Organizing for Philippine Solidarity, and Alma Trinidad of the Malaya Movement and an at-large member of the ICHRP-US National Coordinating Committee, met with an Jagjit Nagra, an aide to Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The US International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines representatives pleaded with Merkley’s office to throw further support behind the efforts of ICHRP and the Stop the Killings Campaign. Senator Merkley has called President Trump’s advisors a “War Cabinet.” [50]

Meeting CAIR

CAIR - Oregon October 10, 2017.

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We spent the morning speaking with Senator Merkley about how the US can assist the Rohingya Muslim community. #Rohingya #StopGenocide

Deconstructed podcast

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Deconstructed podcast with Mehdi Hasan, October 2018. With Rep. Ro Khanna, Senator Jeff Merkley, Nina Turner of Our Revolution. political commentator Symone Sanders. "Left Turn: are democrats in Congress ready to get rsdical?"

Staff

The following are past and present staff:[51]

External links

References

  1. http://www.politico.com/arena/bio/jeff_merkley.html
  2. Jeff Merkley Pays Tribute to Senator Mark O. Hatfield, Uploaded on Sep 9, 2011
  3. Official Senate bio, accessed May 2013
  4. [http://people.com/politics/democrats-dreamers-guests-trump-state-of-the-union-address/ These Democrats Are Bringing 'Dreamers' to President Trump's State of the Union Address, Accessed January 30 2018
  5. [https://www.harris.senate.gov/news/press-releases/senator-harris-to-bring-california-undocublack-daca-recipient-to-state-of-the-union Senator Harris to Bring California UndocuBlack DACA Recipient to State of the Union, Accessed January 30 2018
  6. Confabb website: America's Future Now 2009 Speakers (accessed on July 13, 2010)
  7. Green Jobs Conference website: 2010 Speakers (accessed on Jan. 28, 2011)
  8. 21st Century Democrats FaceBook page, accessed Dec. 21, 2010
  9. Century Democrats, 2014 candidates
  10. J Street 2008 Annual Report
  11. J Street The political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans
  12. JStreetPAC 2016 Endorsees
  13. Email from Senator Jeff Merkley to supporters, Sept. 23, 2010
  14. Minn Post.Al Franken to visit Vietnam with Senate group, then head to Laos, By Joe Kimball | 07/01/10
  15. [http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/04/sen_jeff_merkley_confronts_chi.html, Sen. Jeff Merkley confronts China's reality and contradictions during week-long visit, Charles Pope, The Oregonian By Charles Pope, The Oregonian on April 26, 2011]
  16. PW, Momentum grows for ending the filibuster, by: Mark Gruenberg November 12 2012
  17. CLW website: Meet Our Candidates
  18. CLW website: Who We've Helped Elect
  19. website, accessed May 12, 2013
  20. CLW memo, accessed July 2013
  21. Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation website. Council for a Livable World 50th Anniversary Celebration
  22. CLW blog, The Chain Reaction, Summary of the Council’s 50th Anniversary Senators Forum JUN 21, 2012
  23. CLW bio, accessed July 2014
  24. The Nation, The Progressive Honor Roll of 2012, John Nichols, December 19, 2012
  25. PW, Reid, with labor’s support, moves toward “nuclear option” in Senate, by: John Wojcik, July 12 2013
  26. SOAWatch, Ask your Senator to sign onto the Cardin Letter about Honduras
  27. Cardin Press release, Cardin Leads Senate Call For Accountability In Honduras For Human Rights Violations Tuesday, June 18, 2013
  28. Oregon Alliance for Retired Americans, Retiree Review, November 2013
  29. PAF
  30. CPUSA wbsite.2014 elections: Keep our eyes on the prize by: Joelle Fishman November 10 2014
  31. Peace Action West, How our election work has already made a difference
  32. WAND website, A SANE Approach to Cutting Nuclear Weapons
  33. MRC Newsbusters, Earth to Chuck Todd: George Soros Backs New 'Progressive Agenda' with $159 Million By Alatheia Larsen | May 12, 2015
  34. Opportunity Network, The (Gray) Eagle Has Landed!January 8th, 2013
  35. Press Release March 14, 2015
  36. http://progressiveagenda.us/signers SIGNERS OF THE PROGRESSIVE AGENDA TO COMBAT INCOME INEQUALITY]
  37. [ http://peoplesworld.org/cuba-travel-bill-advances-in-the-senate/PW, Cuba travel bill advances in the Senate by: Emile Schepers May 20 2015]
  38. [%22S+299%22}, Congress.Gov. S.299 - Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015114th Congress (2015-2016) | G]
  39. [Hemayat website, Tehran, in Persian 31 Jan 15
  40. [http://freebeacon.com/national-security/jeff-merkley-has-advocated-soft-line-on-iran-since-1979/Washington Free BeaconJeff Merkley Has Advocated Soft Line on Iran Since 1979 College thesis reveals belief that America’s global power, influence are waning Jeff MerkleyJeff Merkley / AP BY: Adam Kredo April 1, 2014]
  41. U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley pitches progressive policies in first visit to Iowa Jason Noble, jnoble2@dmreg.com Published 6:38 p.m. CT Sept. 10, 2017
  42. [1]
  43. [2]
  44. [3]
  45. [https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/05/18/democrats-resistance-trumps-ideas Common Dreams, ublished on Thursday, May 18, 2017 by People's Action Blog For Democrats, Resistance Trumps IdeasbyRobert Borosage]
  46. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-single-payer-bill-major-support-senate_us_59b87dc1e4b02da0e13d465f HuffPo09/13/2017 08:00 am ET Updated 2 days ago Bernie Sanders Announces Single-Payer Bill With Major Support In Senate By Daniel Marans , Jonathan Cohn]
  47. Duterte Extends Martial Law in Mindanao, U.S. Senator Merkley Voices Support for National Campaign to Stop Killings in the Philippines PORTLAND COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE PHILIPPINES DECEMBER 14, 2017
  48. [https://www.portlandoccupier.org/2018/01/02/newly-formed-philippines-human-rights-group-members-vow-to-defeat-fascism-end-killings/
  49. Duterte Extends Martial Law in Mindanao, U.S. Senator Merkley Voices Support for National Campaign to Stop Killings in the Philippines PORTLAND COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE PHILIPPINES DECEMBER 14, 2017
  50. [https://www.facebook.com/notes/ichrp-us-international-coalition-for-human-rights-in-the-philippines/filipinos-and-advocates-in-oregon-and-washington-march-against-killings-seek-sup/1568254519911119/Filipinos and Advocates in Oregon and Washington March Against Killings, Seek Support from US Senator Merkley and Legislators ICHRP US INTERNATIONAL COALITION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE PHILIPPINES·FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2018]
  51. http://www.legistorm.com/member/932/Sen_Jeff_Merkley_OR.html. Accessed 12/16/2011