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Merkley Discusses Debt Ceiling, Gun Laws

MEDFORD, Ore. — Congress has voted to raise the debt ceiling to pay the nation’s bills through May. Included with the debt limit measure is a provision pressuring lawmakers to adopt a budget or have their congressional pay withheld.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley says those bills have to be paid, even if that means adding to the country’s debt.

“We all should turn to Ronald Reagan on this, he raised the debt ceiling more than any other president; he raised it by a bigger percent than any other president and he said ‘look, this is about paying the bills we’ve already incurred’, and no one should ever question the good faith and credit of the United States of America,” Senator Merkley said.

Senator Merkley also made a stop at Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. The senator says it’s another chance to get law enforcement’s opinion on gun violence.

“The general message from Sheriff’s has been anything is unconstitutional it is our responsibility to make sure to abide by the Constitution, as many sheriff’s have said, of course the courts are going to decide what’s unconstitutional and what isn’t, but they’re sending a clear message of concern,” said the Senator.

Senator Merkley says he is in fact collection mode, wanting to hear from constituents and experts, to find a solution that is consistent with the second amendment and will still make a difference.

The Oregon Senator also had a recent hand on filibusters. In a rare move, the U.S. Senate has changed its rules, after pressure from Senator Merkley. The senator says he has been pushing for restrictions on filibustering. He says the system has been abused, saying while Lyndon Johnson saw just one filibuster, Senator Harry Reid has seen 386.

“We have a responsibility to address the big issues facing America,” Merkley stated. “If we’re not addressing them, and all of America knows we’re not, all of America knows the Senate is broken, then our first responsibility has to be to make the legislature actually work, make the senate actually work.”

Senator Merkley said he was pushing for bold reform, including requiring a lawmaker to be present during a filibuster. That was not passed, but senators did agree on some modest changes, including reducing hurdles for legislation, and reducing the time spent debating some bills and nominations.