The Bulletin: Merkley seeks Dem nomination

When Jeff Merkley arrived in the nation’s capital in 2009 as a newly elected senator, it was not his first stint in Washington.

But it quickly became obvious to the Portland Democrat that the Congress of which he was now a member was very different from the ones he knew as an intern for Sen. Mark Hatfield in the 1970s and later as a nuclear weapons analyst for the Congressional Budget Office in the 1980s.

Merkley immediately felt “deep disappointment over how dysfunctional the U.S. Senate had become,” he recalled in an interview with The Bulletin last week as he discussed this year’s run for a second term.

Because of Senate rules requiring a 60-vote supermajority to overcome even a single senator’s objections, a resolute minority could impede most Senate business.

“We can’t have three coequal branches in the Constitution if the minority of one branch” — 41 senators out of 535 members of Congress — “can prevent the other two branches from being staffed with judges or executive appointments,” he said.

So Merkley did something about it. He became a leading proponent of filibuster reform.

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