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Jeff Merkley on Homeland Security

Democratic Jr Senator (OR)


Be slow to go to war and be fast to take care of veterans

On Iraq, Merkley noted that he was against the war from the start. “I stood up two months before the war and said we should be sending diplomats into Iraq, not bombs,” Merkley said. “Be slow to go to war and be fast to take care of our sons and daughters when they come home. We got it exactly backwards from the Bush administration.”
Source: 2008 Oregon Senate Debate reported in Statesman Journal , Oct 14, 2008

Persuasive evidence & clear objectives before military force

Q: Under what circumstances would you vote to authorize the president to take military action?

A: I view military action as an instrument of last resort in international relations. Some of the standards I would seek before approving military force would be:

Source: Citizens for Global Solutions: 2008 Senate questionnaire , Sep 9, 2008

End nuclear testing; end nuclear development

Q: Do you oppose the development of new nuclear weapons by the United States or any other nation?

A: Yes. My background as a nuclear weapons analyst for Congress in the 1980s give me a sense of confidence and hopefully some credibility in addressing issues involving nuclear weapons. Due to my experience, depth of knowledge and strong opposition to nuclear proliferation I have already been endorsed by Council for a Livable World.

Q: Do you support U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?

A: Yes. An end to nuclear testing would help take the steam out of the nuclear arms race, strengthening non-proliferation efforts that ultimately enhance US and global security.

Source: Citizens for Global Solutions: 2008 Senate questionnaire , Sep 9, 2008

End nuclear testing; end nuclear development

Due to my experience, depth of knowledge and strong opposition to nuclear proliferation I have already been endorsed by Council for a Livable World.

Q: Do you support U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?

A: Yes. An end to nuclear testing would help take the steam out of the nuclear arms race, strengthening non-proliferation efforts that ultimately enhance US and global security.

Source: Citizens for Global Solutions: 2008 Senate questionnaire , Sep 9, 2008

Honor America’s veterans and take good care of them

There is no greater obligation than for the government that owes its existence to the veterans’ sacrifice to support and care for them when they return from the battlefield. Every American owes a debt of gratitude to our veterans that none of us will eve be able to fully repay. As a society that has asked so much of our men and women in uniform, we strive to honor them and their service.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Extend full VA and other benefits to National Guard members

Extend full VA and other benefits to members of the National Guard who have been deployed overseas. Our National Guardsmen and women are being deployed in unprecedented numbers to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They deserve the same benefits we extend to our regular soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

A tragic shortfall in recent years in veterans’ health care

We have seen a tragic shortfall in recent years in veterans’ health care and support services. Sub-par conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, six-month waiting periods to see a doctor--this is not how America should treat its greatest patriots. We can and must do better.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Allow disabled veterans to collect their full retirement pay

Immediately enacting concurrent receipt benefits allowing disabled veterans to collect their full retirement pay when they leave service. The current plan will not be fully phased-in until 2014.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Increase funding for mental health services to veterans

Increase funding for mental health services to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. An estimated one-third of those veterans suffer mental health problems. Proper screening and treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury for returning veterans. The signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is TBI, and an estimated 300,000 veterans may return home suffering form it.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Expand educational opportunities for veterans

Expanded educational opportunities for veterans who have fulfilled their service commitment to our country. Following World War II, the GI Bill helped hundreds of thousands of veterans pay for a college education. We need a new GI Bill for the 21st Century (H.R. 2385) to help the veterans of our recent conflicts get a college education or job training.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Create a GI Bill for the 21st Century

Help for veterans of our recent conflicts to get a college education or job training must be increased. Jeff will work to create a GI Bill for the 21st Century that helps our men and women in uniform returning from Iraq and Afghanistan go to school. Following World War II and every subsequent war, the GI Bill helped hundreds of thousands of veterans pay for a college education.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Voted NO on extending the PATRIOT Act's roving wiretaps.

Congressional Summary: A bill to extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 relating to access to business records, individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers, and roving wiretaps until December 8, 2011.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Smith, R-TX]: America is safe today not because terrorists and spies have given up their goal to destroy our freedoms and our way of life. We are safe today because the men and women of our Armed Forces, our intelligence community, and our law enforcement agencies work every single day to protect us. And Congress must ensure that they are equipped with the resources they need to counteract continuing terrorist threats. On Feb. 28, three important provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act will expire. These provisions give investigators in national security cases the authority to conduct "roving" wiretaps, to seek certain business records, and to gather intelligence on lone terrorists who are not affiliated with a known terrorist group. The Patriot Act works. It has proved effective in preventing terrorist attacks and protecting Americans. To let these provisions expire would leave every American less safe.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Conyers, D-MI]: Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows a secret FISA court to authorize our government to collect business records or anything else, requiring that a person or business produce virtually any type record. We didn't think that that was right then. We don't think it's right now. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure which require the government to show reasonable suspicion or probable cause before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person's privacy. And so I urge a "no" vote on the extension of these expiring provisions.
Status: Passed 86-12

Reference: FISA Sunsets Extension Act; Bill H.514 ; vote number 11-SV019 on Feb 17, 2011

Repeal Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell, and reinstate discharged gays.

Merkley signed HR1283&S3065

Repeals current Department of Defense policy [popularly known as "Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell"] concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces. Prohibits the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard, from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation against any member of the Armed Forces or any person seeking to become a member. Authorizes the re-accession into the Armed Forces of otherwise qualified individuals previously separated for homosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexual conduct.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the furnishing of dependent benefits in violation of section 7 of title 1, United States Code (relating to the definitions of 'marriage' and 'spouse' and referred to as the 'Defense of Marriage Act').

Source: Military Readiness Enhancement Act 10-HR1283 on Mar 3, 2010

End bulk data collection under USA PATRIOT Act.

Merkley co-sponsored USA FREEDOM Act

Congressional summary:: Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring Act or the USA FREEDOM Act: