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Jeff Merkley

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Jeff Merkley
Jeff Merkley.jpg
U.S. Senate, Oregon
In office
Term ends
January 3, 2015
Years in position 6
PredecessorGordon Smith (R)
Base salary$174,000/year
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2008
First electedNovember 4, 2008
Next primaryMay 20, 2014
Next general November 4, 2014
Campaign $$6,512,231
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Speaker of the House, Oregon State House of Representatives
Representative, Oregon State House of Representatives
Bachelor'sStanford University, 1979
Master'sPrinceton University, 1982
Date of birthOctober 24, 1956
Place of birthPortland, OR
Net worth$1,275,510
Office website
Jeff Merkley (b. October 24, 1956, in Portland, Oregon) is a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate from the state of Oregon. Merkley was first elected to the Senate in 2008, when he defeated Gordon H. Smith (R) and David Brownlow (Constitution) in the general election.

Merkley's political career began in 1998 when he won election to the Oregon House of Representatives. He served as a representative from 1999 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2008.

Based on analysis of multiple outside rankings, Merkley is one of the most reliable Democratic votes, meaning he can be considered a safe vote for the Democratic Party in Congress.


Merkley was born in Portland, Oregon. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a Master's from Princeton.[1]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Merkley's academic, professional and political career:[1]

  • 1979: Graduated from Stanford University
  • 1982: Graduated from Princeton University
  • 1999-2008: Oregon House of Representatives
  • 2007-2008: Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives
  • 2009-Present: U.S Senator from Oregon

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Merkley serves on the following Senate committees:[2]

  • United States Senate Committee on Appropriations
    • Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
  • Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
    • Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Members
    • Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development
  • Budget
  • Environment and Public Works
    • Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife
    • Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health
    • Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy




Legislative actions

113th Congress


The second session of the 113th Congress enacted into law 114 out of the 3,036 introduced bills (3.8 percent). Comparatively, the 112th Congress had 4.2 percent of introduced bills enacted into law in the second session.[4] The Senate confirmed 13,949 out of 18,323 executive nominations received (76.1 percent). For more information pertaining to Merkley's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[5]

National security

John Brennan CIA nomination

Voted "No" Merkley voted against confirmation of John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on March 7, 2013, with a vote of 63 - 34. Most Democrats supported the nomination, while Republicans were somewhat divided with roughly one-third supporting the nomination.[6]


Government shutdown
See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Voted "Yes" During the shutdown in October 2013, the Senate rejected, down party lines, every House-originated bill that stripped the budget of funding for the Affordable Care Act. A deal was reached late on October 16, 2013, just hours before the debt ceiling deadline. The bill to reopen the government, H.R. 2775, lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funds the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[7] The final vote on H.R. 2775 was 81-18, with all 18 votes against the bill from Republican members. Merkley voted with the Democratic Party for the bill.[8]

No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013

Voted "Yes" Merkley voted for H.R.325 -- No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013. The bill passed the Senate on January 31, 2013, with a vote of 64 - 34. The purpose of the bill was to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling and withhold the pay of members of Congress until a budget could be passed. The vote largely followed party lines with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting it and many Republicans in opposition to the bill.[6]

2013 Senate Budget Proposal

Voted "Yes" Merkley voted for the 2013 Senate Budget Proposal.[6] On March 23, after an all-night debate that ended just before 5 a.m., by a 50 to 49 vote the Democratically controlled Senate approved its first budget in four years. No Republicans voted for the Senate plan, and four Democrats opposed it. All four are from red states and are up for re-election in 2014. Merkley was one of the four Democrats who voted against the budget proposal.[6]

The approved plan is a $3.7 trillion budget for 2014 and would provide a fast track for passage of tax increases, trim spending modestly and leave the government still deeply in the red for the next decade.

The approval of a budget in the Senate began the process of setting up contentious, and potentially fruitless, negotiations with the Republican-controlled House starting in April to reconcile two vastly different plans for dealing with the nation’s economic and budgetary problems.

The House plan would have brought the government’s taxes and spending into balance by 2023 with cuts to domestic spending even below the levels of automatic across-the-board cuts for federal programs now, and it orders up dramatic and controversial changes to Medicare and the tax code.

The Senate plan differed greatly, and included $100 billion in upfront infrastructure spending to bolster the economy and calls for special fast-track rules to overhaul the tax code and raise $975 billion over 10 years in legislation that could not be filibustered. Even with that tax increase and prescribed spending cuts, the plan approved by the Senate would leave the government with a $566 billion annual deficit in 10 years, and $5.2 trillion in additional debt over that window.


Mexico-U.S. border

Voted "No" Merkley voted against Senate Amendment 1197 -- Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border. The amendment was rejected by the Senate on June 18, 2013, with a vote of 39 - 54. The purpose of the amendment was to require the completion of 350 miles of fence described in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 before registered provisional immigrant status may be granted. It would also require 700 miles of fence be completed before the status of registered provisional immigrants may be changed to permanent resident status. The vote followed party lines.[6]

Social Issues

Violence Against Women (2013)

Voted "Yes" Merkley voted for S.47 -- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The bill was passed by the Senate on February 12, 2013, with a vote of 78 - 22. The purpose of the bill was to combat violence against women, from domestic violence to international trafficking in persons. All 22 dissenting votes were cast by Republicans.[6]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Voted "Yes" Merkley voted for the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. The bill was passed in the Senate by a 89 - 8 vote on January 1, 2013.[9]



See also: United States Senate elections in Oregon, 2014

Merkley is set to run for re-election in 2014. Should he decide to run, he will be seeking the Democratic nomination in the primary on May 20, 2014. The general election took place November 4, 2014.


On November 4, 2008, Jeff Merkley won election to the United States Senate. He defeated Gordon H. Smith (R) and David Brownlow (Constitution) in the general election.[10]

U.S. Senate, Oregon General Election, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democrat Green check mark transparent.pngJeff Merkley 49.1% 864,392
     Republican Gordon H. Smith 45.7% 805,159
     Constitution David Brownlow 5.3% 92,565
Total Votes 1,762,116

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Merkley is available dating back to 2008. Based on available campaign finance records, Merkley raised a total of $6,512,231 during that time period. This information was last updated on April 19, 2013.[11]

Jeff Merkley's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2008 U.S. Senate Won $6,512,231
Grand Total Raised $6,512,231


Candidates for Congress are required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Merkley’s reports.[12]

Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Merkley’s reports.[13]

Jeff Merkley (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[14]July 2, 2013$544,415.19$1,043,685.18$(269,356.61)$1,318,743.76
July Quarterly[15]July 15, 2013$1,318,743.76$815,968.57$(326,650.87)$1,808,061.46
October Quarterly[16]October 13, 2013$1,808,061.46$908,962.11$(427,275.97)$2,289,747.60
Year-End Quarterly[17]December 31, 2013$2,286,747$1,129,886$(418,415)$3,001,854
April Quarterly[18]April 15, 2014$3,001,854.98$1,056,498.36$(449,706.59)$3,608,646.75
Pre-Primary[19]May 8, 2014$3,608,646.75$479,622.20$(380,455.88)$3,707,813.07
July Quarterly[20]September 26, 2014$3,707,813.07$1,334,610.53$(1,541,993.91)$3,500,429.69
October Quarterly[21]October 15, 2014$3,500,429.69$2,147,763.96$(4,271,422.83)$1,376,770.82
Pre-General[22]October 23, 2014$1,376,770.82$334,055.56$(553,644.58)$1,157,181.80
Running totals


Breakdown of the source of Merkley's campaign funds before the 2008 election.

Merkley won election to the U.S. Senate in 2008. During that election cycle, Merkley's campaign committee raised a total of $6,512,231 and spent $6,501,315.[23]


Ideology and leadership

See also: GovTrack's Political Spectrum & Legislative Leadership ranking

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Merkley is a "far-left Democrat" as of June 2013.[24]

Like-minded colleagues

The website OpenCongress tracks the voting records of each member to determine with whom he or she votes most and least often. The results include a member from each party.[25]

Merkley most often votes with:

Merkley least often votes with:

Lifetime voting record

See also: Lifetime voting records of United States Senators and Representatives

According to the website GovTrack, Merkley missed 11 of 1,278 roll call votes from January 2009 to April 2013, which is 0.9% of votes during that period. This is better than the median of 1.7% among the lifetime records of senators currently serving.[26]

Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Merkley paid his congressional staff a total of $625,167 in 2011. He ranked 20th on the list of the highest paid Democratic senatorial staff salaries and ranked 24th overall of the highest paid senatorial staff salaries in 2011. Overall, Oregon ranked 21st in average salary for senatorial staff. The average U.S. Senate congressional staff was paid $2,529,141.70 in fiscal year 2011.[27]

Net worth

See also: Net worth of United States Senators and Representatives


Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Merkley's net worth as of 2012 was estimated between $79,024 to $2,471,996. That averages to $1,275,510, which is lower than the average net worth of Democratic Senate members in 2012 of $13,566,333.90. Merkley ranked as the 61st most wealthy senator in 2012.[28]

Jeff Merkley Yearly Net Worth
YearAverage Net Worth
The data used to calculate changes in net worth may include changes resulting from assets gained through marriage, inheritance, changes in family estates and/or trusts, changes in family business ownership and many other variables unrelated to a member's behavior in Congress.

National Journal vote ratings

See also: National Journal vote ratings

Each year, National Journal publishes an analysis of how liberally or conservatively each member of Congress voted, as compared to other members, in the previous year. More information about the analysis process can be found on the vote ratings page.


Merkley was ranked one of the two most liberal senators in 2012.[29]


Merkley was ranked one of the two most liberal senators in 2011.[30]

Voting with party


Merkley voted with the Democratic Party 88.9% of the time, which ranked 41st among the 52 Senate Democratic members as of June 2013.[31]


Merkley and his wife, Mary, have two children.

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term Jeff + Merkley + Oregon + Senate

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Jeff Merkley News Feed

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See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Biographical Director of the United States Congress, "Jeff Merkley," accessed October 24, 2011
  2. Congressional Quarterly "Senate Committee List" accessed January 22, 2013
  3. Jeff Merkley Vote Smart profile
  4. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  5. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Project Vote Smart, "Jeff Merkley Key Votes," accessed October 17, 2013
  7. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  8., "H.R. 2775 As Amended," accessed October 31, 2013
  9. U.S. Senate "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff" accessed January 4, 2013
  10. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 2008," accessed March 28, 2013
  11. Open Secrets, "Career Fundraising for Jeff Merkley" April 2013
  12. Federal Election Commission, "Jeff Merkley 2014 Summary reports," accessed October 29, 2013
  13. Federal Election Commission, "Jeff Merkley 2014 Summary reports," accessed October 29, 2013
  14. Federal Election Commission, "April Quarterly," accessed November 3, 2014
  15. Federal Election Commission, "July Quarterly," accessed August 5, 2013
  16. Federal Election Commission, "October Quarterly," accessed October 29, 2013
  17. Federal Election Commission, "Year-End Quarterly," accessed February 19, 2014
  18. Federal Election Commission, "April Quarterly," accessed April 24, 2014
  19. Federal Election Commission, "Pre-Primary," accessed November 3, 2014
  20. Federal Election Commission, "July Quarterly," accessed November 3, 2014
  21. Federal Election Commission, "October Quarterly," accessed November 3, 2014
  22. Federal Election Commission, "Pre-General," accessed November 3, 2014
  23. Open Secrets, "Jeff Merkley 2008 Election Cycle," accessed May 16, 2013
  24. GovTrack, "Jeff Merkley," accessed June 7, 2013
  25. OpenCongress, "Sen. Jeff Merkley," accessed August 22, 2013
  26. GovTrack, "Jeff Merkley" accessed April 2013
  27. LegiStorm, "Jeff Merkley"
  28. OpenSecrets, "Merkley, 2012," accessed January 14, 2014
  29. National Journal, "TABLE: House Liberal Scores by Issue Area," February 26, 2013
  30. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: House," accessed February 23, 2012
  31. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Gordon Smith
U.S. Senate - Oregon
Succeeded by