Merkley talks about “dark money” voter suppression in Mac town hall

Dark money, voter suppression, and the need to help families thrive were the topics of discussion from Senator Jeff Merkley at a McMinnville town hall today .
 
200 people gathered at the McMinnville Community Center to hear the Senator say people are telling him they want housing, education, and a good paying job. Merkley says Congress is not doing well in those areas right now.
 
He talked about the need to “claw back” what he called the biggest legislative expenditure In 2017, that was the tax break given to the wealthy, according to the senator.
 
Merkley said the US needs to do a better job in building up it’s infrastructure in a way that helps people and doesn’t hurt the environment. He said he has been to China a few times. During his first trip, they were riding bicycles, now they are riding bullet trains. China now has 16-thousand miles of bullet train tracks.
 
He said the U.S. needs more of that investment, and we are seeing environmental chaos. We are seeing longer fire seasons, less snow pack, less irrigation and more smoke damaging grapes and people.
 
Merkley said the Ecosystem is connected, adding we see it offshore in the disappearing Kelp forests. He added the U.S. must start a faster transition to renewable energy and get away from fossil fuels. That promoted applause from the crowd.
 
Jim Chena of McMinnville said “you mentioned fair access to voting. I think Oregon is the best anywhere. Vote by mail is more secure than any other system, can we spread that across the country?”
 
Merkley. “we have a couple of other states that do vote by mail. it has many advantages, including a signature for security. I think electronic voting machines should be done away with. Diabold is one voting machine, i think it stands for diabolical.
 
A woman from Carlton complained about garbage being trucked through town and wants to know what Congress is doing to promote recycling.
 
Merkley said “There should be a way to provide a life cycle of recycling for product containers. There is a company in Oregon that is boiling Styrofoam down to an oil used to make new Styrofoam. We need to do more of that”
 
Al Owen , McMinnville, “how do you get through the day without getting angry with the administration?”
 
Merkley, said ” There are some things I agree with President Trump. We should keep keep jobs from going overseas. We also need to keep the pharmacies from gouging Americans. We need to charge Americans the average of the prices of drugs sold to other overseas countries. Right now Americans are paying much more then consumers do overseas.”
 
Merkley added “I hope we can get through the next two years without a war. “
David Biel, Portland,” A jury yesterday determined that Roundup and Monsanto had contributed to someone’s cancer. Can you move forward with legislation to remove these chemicals from the market place?
 
Merkley , “I am on the spending committee for Ag. the Ag committee chair will not take up those issues. Vermont laid out a labeling bill so everyone would know if GMO is in their products. The industry fought that, the industry wanted a consistent standard of no labeling.
 
“Did you know that some of the Monsanto Roundup is designed for GMO products. some plants have insecticides engineered into the molecules of the plant.
 
Merkley ” I propose the three second test. you should be able to tell in three seconds if the produce has GMO”
 
Merkley ” I took a long vehicle trip recently. There was not a single bug on our windshield. We are seeing this insect armageddon.
 
Another question. What are you doing to support health care
 
Merkley ” I am a cosponsor of Medicare for all. People are searching for medical care. People are asking how do i get my spouse covered, my kids. I love the idea of a seamless health care system, so that you are covered if you live in the United States. I don’t think we are going to get to a point where you are forced to change healthcare service.
 
” I want an option like Safe in Oregon for workers in Oregon. When Safe started, the cost dropped in half. |”
 
“It was copied in Rhode Island and it cut the workers insurance cost in Rhode Island in half. I want this nation to have full medicare for all. we need to dramatically cut the cost of healthcare. “
 
“If we have the best health care in the world, how come we are paying twice as much and getting less outcomes then other nations. “
 
a Woman asked, “we have a problem in the senate, the majority speaker refused to bring bills to the floor. There is an abuse of power, how can we change that?”
 
Merkley. said “The senate was designed to keep any one person from being in power. However, the rules have changed. There have been some courtesy’s given to the majority party. We are seeing an abuse of that.
 
I think we have to get out of the mode of the abuse of the majority leaders power, such as Mitch McConnell is wielding. We are not there to keep from offending people, we are there to deal with the real problems our country is facing. “
 
Jim Verdan asked “how do we help the homeless with attracting more homeless?”
 
Merkley “They are coming to Oregon because it’s paradise.
 
Oregon is number one in the nation for U-hall trailer destination.
 
Home ownership and rents are getting out of reach. we have to put more federal money into housing. we have restored vets vouchers, but we need to do more.
we have to think about how to build cheaper housing.
 
“Now it’s 250-thousand dollars to develop an apartment. We need to look at more shelters, we need to have people be able to pitch their tent off the public right of way.
 
“we have to look at all pieces of the puzzle and find solutions.
“I heard in Newberg, they have their section 8 vouchers unused. (that’s money setting on the table and it could help the homeless. Apartments are funded up to 750 dollars, but there are no 750 dollar apartments, so the vouchers can’t be used. We need to do something about that.
 
“right now we are not doing well in providing housing.
 
Daniel said I grew up here in McMinnville. what about eliminating the filibuster?
 
Merkley said ” In the 80’s, the senate was simple majority. The culture has changed in the Senate. As the parties moved farther apart. The Senate is a legislative deep freeze, and things are not being acted on”
 
People have become so comfortable with that deep freeze in the Senate.
 
We have to change the executive nominations process, it eats up the Senate’s time. I propose a 100 day clock runs for presidential nominations, then two days of debate, and then a yes or no vote.
 
Hillary asked “after the horrific mass shooting in New Zealand, the government is fast tracking gun law changes. they will have changes by Monday . what will it take for the Senate to get on board for common sense gun violence legislation?”
 
Merkley took a poll of the audience. 95 percent of the people who raised hands favored outlawing assault rifles, limiting magazines to ten rounds, background checks for all people buying weapons.
 
Merkley asked “How do we get the few additional votes we need to pass stronger laws, we need more grass roots groups turning up the heat on lawmakers, groups like Moms Demand action. “
 
Merkley said “I find a significant divide in urban and rural thinking on guns. Many rural areas, the vote would be 95 percent against those restrictions. . we have to counter balance the political pressure of the NRA”
 
WOMAN asked “what about birthing trips, do they happen?”
Merkley “i think that’s real, people want their kids to be American citizens, so they come here to be born”
 
“Merkley said “a couple of weeks ago i want to in south America. in some countries, every company is paying extortion money. If you don’t pay, you are killed, your daughter is raped, or your family is killed.
 
There is a big grip by the Cartel. The countries have malnutrition, they have a very young population in Guatemala . Violence, domestic violence, street level violence, it’s all there.
 
So people are trying to escape and they are coming to the border, and they are stopped.
 
If you want asylum prove your story is true.
When people are waiting for their hearing, let’s trip them with decency and respect as they await their asylum hearing.
 
In Tijuana, they are not being allowed to ask for Asylum on the border. They can go and get a number. You wait for six weeks for your number to come up. you are thrown into Tijuana and you are trying to survive. Then you wait to wait another 45 days for your second hearing. In the meantime, the young people without money are being gobbled up by the sex trade
 
I have met youth who have been their months. The only option you have is illegal entry.
 
In Central America, Merkley said what we should understand, there are three things the U.S. exports. It’s money, guns, and gang expertise. We deport gang people and they set up shop overseas.
 
Merkley said “We need to spend more on Alliance of Prosperity and concentrate the money to do some good. Because once that street level extortion is established it’s hard to break.
 
Merkley was asked “is anything being done to investigate the last election, and make sure Russia does not meddle in the next election?”
 
Merkley, ” Russia has continued to meddle to divide us. They are trying to rip us apart as a country and they use social media to do it. There are many parties trying to increase our anger among ourselves. (they are inciting us against each other)
 
Merkley said “we have a fundamental problem that goes to the supreme court. The supreme court has become political, very political.
 
Jefferson said you have to distribute power among the citizens, not among the elite with power. Merkley claims there are huge numbers of voter suppression issues. The Supreme court is not defending the vision of our constitution.
 
Merkley says I get 14-thousand emails a week. I try to to reply to each one.
 
Merkley ended by saying “we have been in a dark period in this nation. We need to get out off the sidelines and into action.
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