NEWPORT — Over 100 people filed into the Newport Middle School commons on Friday to hear Sen. Jeff Merkley speak about his work in Washington D.C. and answer questions from Lincoln County residents. The top two question topics of the day: the environment and the upcoming election.
Climate change and the environment
The topic of climate change was a common one among the questions fielded by Merkley. In response to a question regarding plastic pollution from one of the Sam Case Surfriders, Merkley stated that not nearly enough was being done on the national level.
“There is no strategy at this moment for a national ban on plastic bags,” said Merkley.
He did, however, give State Rep. David Gomberg the opportunity to share more about the work being done at the state level, which include the plastic bag ban which has been sent on to be signed by the governor, a partial plastic straw bill which prohibits restaurants from distributing plastic straws unless requested and an upcoming vote on a carbon cap to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses that Oregon produces.
Voters and their voices
Merkley also received a couple of questions regarding the Mueller report and the security of the upcoming 2020 election. The senator kicked off the meeting with a speech in which he stated that corruption in the current democratic system was a major concern of his. In addressing one woman’s concern about vote tampering, Merkley started his response by simply saying: “We have to pass the For the People Act,” — a comprehensive bill which addresses voter access, election integrity, election security, political spending and ethics for the three branches of government. It also requires candidates running for the offices of president and vice president to submit 10 years of tax returns.
As for alleged tampering and collusion in the 2016 election, Merkley had this to say: “We’ve gotten the Mueller report. It’s massive, it’s got a lot of information in it, and Mueller decided not to make the determination about whether the actions described in it rise to the level of criminality. However, I received — every member of congress received — a letter, about two weeks ago.”
In that letter, Merkley explained, which has now been signed by over 1,000 former federal prosecutors, it said that the actions described in the Mueller report specifically pertaining to obstruction of justice do rise to the level of criminality, and they would all indict if still practicing.
With that letter in mind, Merkley remarked, “It’s time for the House to convene an impeachment committee.”
Merkley declined to comment on only one constituent’s comment: she expressed concern over the number of Democrats running for president and a lack of unity in the party.