Merkley: ‘Not business as usual’ in DC right now


Sen. Merkley spoke from an office in Washington DC

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As impeachment hearings got underway in the House of Representatives, Sen. Jeff Merkley said it was “not business as usual” in the Senate as “folks are very aware of what’s going on.”

But he said he hasn’t seen any of the House impeachment hearings Wednesday. “I’ve been booked back to back in meetings all day.”

Government shutdown

One of those meetings is about a looming government shutdown. Merkley told KOIN 6 News it appears there is a deal to keep the government running with a continuing resolution through December 20.

That will allow the government to keep operating while they continue to figure out a longer term budget deal. Merkely said there is “intense disagreement” over President Trump’s efforts to move money from certain budgets to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

The Supreme Court and DACA

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the DACA case. Court observers said it appears the conservative majority may side with Trump and remove the protection the 700,000 Dreamers have had for years.

Merkley said Trump “is betraying” those Dreamers in this effort without explanation over why their protection would be rescinded.

Insulin price gouging

About a week ago, Merkley and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin introduced a bill to end the price gouging of insulin for Americans. The bill would require drug companies to offer insulin products to Americans at the median price of what they charge in 11 other major developed countries.

But Merkley said he does “not see a path through the Senate” for approval of this bill, which he deemed “outrageous.” The drug companies, he said, have used tricks to gouge Americans on insulin prices.

His point with the bill is that drugmakers should not charge more to Americans than they do to other countries. “We should get the best price,” he said.

Presidential politics

Merkley, who tossed around the idea of running for president, said he hasn’t re-thought his decision not to run even though it appears former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Massachussetts Gov. Deval Patrick may get in.

“No,” he said, chuckling. “I haven’t (re-considered).”

Although he admits he’d like to be up on the debate stage, he said “I’ll keep fighting” for the issues that are important to him from his seat in the US Senate.

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