Oregon's U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley was quite candid about what he called a "dysfunctional Senate" as he addressed those who attended his Clatsop County Town Hall meeting Monday morning. When a audience member asked when we could expect to see the Congress become more functional and able to move forward Merkley's answer was "I think you need to lower your expectations".
While the audience at the Maritime Museum laughed it was obvious that Merkley's humor thinly veils a certain amount of frustration with the process on the part of the junior Senator. In his opening comments Sen Merkley talked about the last minute negotiations over the fiscal cliff bill and then detailed one part of those negotiations that resulted in the destruction of a farm bill he had championed aimed at helping Oregon's many small "niche" farmers in favor of what he said is the typical big agriculture pork-barrel subsidies that are out-of-date and really help no one. Merkley blames changes in Senate rules over the years that allows for lengthy objection processes for just about any work the body is supposed to be doing. One can even object to an objection and filibusters no longer require live bodies debating the issues. He says that the allowance of anonymous objections from unnamed members are another block to progress. He told the local crowd "If you think that there is some master plan in place(with passage of the fiscal cliff bill) and that things will be running smoothly in the Senate, you would be wrong. There is no plan." Merkley said that there are several key fiscal challenges facing the Congress when they return to session.
KAST News will broadcast Senator Merkley's remarks Wednesday morning following FOX news at 8AM and an expanded version will be broadcast early Sunday morning as part of the program Coast Week at 5am.