PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the Senate continues to debate another coronavirus relief bill, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley is trying to make sure Americans have a place to live and electricity during the pandemic.
Merkley is working to get two bills into the coronavirus relief bill. One would prevent or erase unpaid rent, property evictions, or unpaid judgments, and the other would protect Americans’ access to electricity, running water, and other critical utilities during the crisis.
“Cutting off water, electricity or broadband is to leave Americans adrift,” he said. The legislation about personal credit is “essentially a recognition that in this unique moment, when millions lost their job, is not a reflection of your past or future ability to pay your bills.”
He spoke with KOIN 6 News about where those bills stand and where they are in the process of the next coronavirus relief package.
The gap between the GOP and Democrats plans “has to be bridged because it’s totally unacceptable that we leave Americans stranded.” He added he thinks there will be “a quick turnaround” because Republicans heard from their constituents while they were on recess that they want something done quickly.
In an interview with KOIN 6 News, Merkley also weighed in on the deal between Oregon’s leadership and the Department of Homeland Security to remove some federal officers from downtown Portland beginning Thursday.
Merkley credited the “very good work” of Governor Kate Brown and the rest of the Oregon delegation for their efforts since the federal officers arrived in Portland in early July. He has sponsored the No Secret Police in America Act and blamed the ongoing violence “entirely on the behalf of the federal government.”
He shared some insight into how the deal was struck as well as President Trump’s remarks that the feds weren’t leaving Portland until the “city is secured.”
Merkley said sending federal agents to Portland — and to Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Chicago and other cities — is part of “a campaign strategy” to show that Trump is “the law-and-order president.”
The efforts to get the federal agents out of Portland “have changed the administration’s strategy” on this “horrific abuse of power.”
Follow KOIN 6 for the latest news and weather