PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One day after garnering 99% of the vote in the Democratic primary, Sen. Jeff Merkley spoke with KOIN 6 News about his Republican opponent, congressional efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic and President Trump’s firing of another Inspector General, this one at the behest of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported the GOP nominee to face Merkley, Jo Rae Perkins, supports QAnon, a far right conspiracy theory supporting President Trump. Asked about Perkins, Merkley merely said, “I have no comment on my potential Republican opponent.”
“What I will say we have to do in America is restore our institutions, and address the fundamental issues affecting the people on health care, on housing, on education, on jobs, certainly on the infrastructure of this country, and we need to take on climate chaos,” Merkley said.
As for how the campaign will be conducted, the Oregon Democrat said he wishes there could be a lot more personal contact. “I’m dreading the possibility of many hours a day in Zoom rooms.”
Merkley also talked about Trump’s firing of 4 inspectors general in recent weeks because “he doesn’t want any oversight.”
“I wish our Congress had a magic way to reach out and say, ‘Our Constitution is about checks and balances. It is about oversight. It is about making sure the law is followed and the money is spent in a proper manner and that ethical rules are not broken.”
He remains concerned about data privacy issues as facial recognition and contact tracing for the pandemic merge. He and Senator Cory Booker sent a letter to a company called CLEAR expressing their concerns for how their new product might be a threat to privacy. As of now, neither senator has heard back from CLEAR.
Congress is including money for states and local governments in the latest coronavirus relief packages, but the Senate has not agreed to the package the House put forward.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he said, is opposed to the latest package. McConnell “said there is nothing urgent and we should just let the local governments go bankrupt. I couldn’t disagree more.”