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Jeff Merkley's Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)

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Official Position: Candidate addressed this issue directly by taking the Political Courage Test.

Inferred Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, but Vote Smart inferred this issue based on the candidate's public record, including statements, voting record, and special interest group endorsements.

Unknown Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, or we could not infer an answer for this candidate despite exhaustive research of their public record.

Additional Information: Click on this icon to reveal more information about this candidate's position, from their answers or Vote Smart's research.

Other or Expanded Principles & Legislative Priorities are entered exactly as candidates submit them. Vote Smart does not edit for misspelled words, punctuation or grammar.

Jeff Merkley has failed to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2020 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart and voters like you.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Issue Positions

For Presidential and Congressional candidates who refuse to provide voters with their positions, Vote Smart has researched their public records to determine their likely responses. These issue positions are from 2020.

  • Rated 100% by Planned Parenthood. (votesmart.org)
  • "Choosing whether or not to use contraception is a medical choice that belongs between a woman and her doctor. Bosses don't belong in our bedrooms or our doctors' exam rooms. I'll keep fighting to fix this misguided decision because how Oregonians use their health coverage is just not their boss's business." (votesmart.org)
  • "It's good news that tonight's attack on women's health care failed, but sadly we know there will be more to come. Already, some Republicans are suggesting that we shut down the government rather than allow Planned Parenthood to continue providing essential health care in communities across the nation. We cannot allow this destructive, partisan brand of politics to prevail over common sense. I'll keep standing up against attempts to defund women's health care." (votesmart.org)
  • "These tax cuts for billionaires and big corporations won’t pay for themselves. #GOPTaxScam would cut into critical funds for farmers. @RealDonaldTrump and the GOP have completely misplaced priorities." (twitter.com)
  • "If @realDonaldTrump and Republicans were serious about reducing our national debt, they wouldn’t have passed tax giveaways for the ultra-rich that exploded our deficits." (twitter.com)
  • "Republicans blew up the deficit by giving tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations." (twitter.com)
  • "Senator Merkley also supports permanent tax cuts for all Americans on income up to $250,000 a year but believes the country cannot afford to add $800 billion to the deficit in order to pass another round of tax cuts for millionaires." (votesmart.org)
  • "Senator Merkley is adamantly opposed to proposals that would fundamentally alter Social Security's make-up by privatizing the program or diverting Social Security revenues into risky Wall Street private accounts." (votesmart.org)
  • "Middle class families pay into Social Security with every dollar they earn. But for the top 1%, their contributions are capped. If we remove this cap, we can ensure everyone pays their fair share and protect Social Security for decades to come. #ScrapTheCap" (twitter.com)
  • "Raising the Medicare eligibility age would be absolutely disastrous. In my town halls, I hear from a lot of Oregonians who are in their early 60s and are praying they make it to 65 to receive their Medicare benefits. If anything, we should be lowering the eligibility age. Medicare is an important lifeline for our seniors, and must be protected from hostile attacks to privatize it or weaken it," said Merkley." (votesmart.org)
  • Voted in favor of HR 4302 - Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014. (votesmart.org)
  • Rated 80% by Common Cause. (votesmart.org)
  • "It is the product of a vast cycle of corruption, corruption enabled by Citizens United, resulting in vast funds flowing through our election system to elect individuals selected by millionaires and billionaires." (votesmart.org)
  • "We must also ban chokeholds and other oxygen-depriving tactics nationwide, and identify them as civil rights violations. We must engage in nationwide data collection to determine how often and against whom force--whether justified or unjustified--is used. We must require civilian oversight. We must end no-knock warrants. We must end the transfer of battlefield armaments to civilian police agencies. We must end qualified immunity for police officers who engage in bad behavior. We must outlaw racial profiling and build systems to ensure it actually stops." (votesmart.org)
  • Rated 0% by Center for Security Policy. (votesmart.org)
  • "Jeff is committed to a foreign policy that uses every tool available to make the United States safer and stronger, and knows that those tools are often not military." (votesmart.org)
  • "Voted NO bc it provides massive $80bil increase in defense spending while our infrastructure & education investments are woefully inadequate" (twitter.com)
  • "Investing in infrastructure creates good jobs, improves our economy, protects public health & expands opportunity to all" (twitter.com)
  • "President Trump plans to sell us out to Wall Street developers with #TrumpTolls. But @SenateDems want real, direct infrastructure investments that will strengthen our middle class and create 15 million good jobs." (twitter.com)
  • "These tax cuts for billionaires and big corporations won’t pay for themselves. #GOPTaxScam would cut into critical funds for farmers. @RealDonaldTrump and the GOP have completely misplaced priorities." (twitter.com)
  • "Congress must act quickly to close corporate tax loopholes and curb tax dodgers who game the system at the expense of hardworking Americans." (twitter.com)
  • "Republicans blew up the deficit by giving tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations." (twitter.com)
  • "Senator Merkley also successfully included in the Small Business Jobs Act his Jump Start Act to help give small businesses a financial boost in their first year. Merkley's bill increases deductions for start-up expenses from $5,000 to $10,000 and increases the threshold for the phase-out of the deduction. The provision encourages entrepreneurs to create jobs now instead of waiting for the economy to recover." (votesmart.org)
  • Voted in favor of HR 748 - Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. (votesmart.org)
  • "When the bill goes before the conference committee, we must work to improve it so that all children, particularly those most at-risk, can get the education they deserve. This means strengthening the accountability measures within the bill and requiring states to identify and support schools that need additional assistance to serve their most vulnerable students. By doing so, we can help close the achievement gap and ensure all our students are given a fair shot to reach their full potential." (votesmart.org)
  • Rated 100% by National Education Association. (votesmart.org)
  • "It's an enormous relief for students, educators, and parents across Oregon that the deeply broken "No Child Left Behind' law is finally being replaced. No Child Left Behind left a lot of children behind. It focused too much on getting some children to meet testing goals while ignoring other children, as well as wiping out numerous core courses and electives that were not tested. It's time to replace a narrow and often counterproductive focus on high-stakes testing with a broader vision of learning and accountability, and that's exactly what this bill does." (votesmart.org)
  • "Investing in clean, renewable energy infrastructure is critical to #ActOnClimate" (twitter.com)
  • "To boost the production and use of electric vehicles, Senator Merkley sponsored the bipartisan Electric Vehicle and Deployment Act of 2010 with Senators Dorgan (D-ND) and Alexander (R-TN). The legislation would increase incentives for electric vehicle purchases, promote the deployment of charging infrastructure and launch a "deployment communities" program where selected communities across the country would get assistance in encouraging broad adoption of electric vehicles in the marketplace." (votesmart.org)
  • Rated 0% by American Energy Alliance. (votesmart.org)
  • "Jeff believes that clean energy can create the jobs of the future here in America, while also reducing dangerous carbon pollution. He led efforts to expand biomass as a renewable energy source, and wrote the Job Creation through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act, which would immediately create jobs in construction and renovation while helping manufacturers lower their costs and create more jobs in the long run." (votesmart.org)
  • "One of Senator Merkley's top priorities as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is to pass legislation that will reduce global warming pollution. Merkley is working with his colleagues on legislation that places a cap on global warming pollution and develops a cost effective program to help industry and consumers meet that cap." (votesmart.org)
  • Rated 99% by League of Conservation Voters. (votesmart.org)
  • Rated 100% by Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. (votesmart.org)
  • "Enough is enough. We’ve lost too many loved ones to senseless gun violence. If not commonsense gun reform now, when?" (twitter.com)
  • "The #ACA has literally been a lifesaver. I’ll keep fighting to make sure that its protections are not going to go anywhere." (twitter.com)
  • "If GOP repeals #ACA, 32 mil lose care." (twitter.com)
  • "Repealing a key pillar of the ACA will wreak havoc on our health care system, drive up premiums & leave millions w/o insurance." (twitter.com)
  • Voted in favor of HR 6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act. (votesmart.org)
  • "Trump’s wall will waste our scarce resources: a 21-ft ladder defeats a 20-ft wall. We must focus on smart infrastructure investment instead." (twitter.com)
  • Rated 0% by NumbersUSA. (votesmart.org)
  • "Trump's immigration plan is a big mistake & I stand with our cities determined not to make this mistake #NoBanNoWall" (twitter.com)
  • "Six months ago today, @realDonaldTrump announced that he would end #DACA and threw the lives of our Dreamers into chaos. President Trump created this problem and he still has the power to fix it. He needs to recognize: Dreamers are Americans, not bargaining chips." (twitter.com)
  • Rated 0% by NumbersUSA. (votesmart.org)
  • "We made a promise to nearly 700,000 young people that, if they trusted us enough to come forward, we would protect them. Trump’s betrayal of DREAMers must not stand. I will fight to honor the promise made to DREAMers who know no other land. #HomeIsHere #HereToStay #DACA" (twitter.com)
  • "The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remains a pillar of U.S. and international security. Only nuclear weapons have the capacity to wipe out humanity in the blink of an eye," said Merkley. "It is imperative that that the United States recommit to all of its obligations under the NPT, particularly by reducing the role and number of nuclear weapons, as a long line of Presidents and Congresses have done before, irrespective of political party. I urge President Trump to continue to use the United States' significant diplomatic power to make progress on this critical issue--including by entering into the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; locking in the extension of the New START Treaty with Russia; and pushing for a concrete and verifiable plan to end North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons." (votesmart.org)
  • Rated 0% by Center for Security Policy. (votesmart.org)
  • "President Trump should look at diplomatic options and remember that our greatest strength has never been our military might but our global leadership. When senior administration officials brief me and my colleagues this afternoon, I will press the administration to produce a strategy that engages our allies and avoids war, prevents Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and responds to Iran's malign activities in the region." (votesmart.org)
  • "We can and should work with international partners to take on Iran's other malign actions, including its ballistic missile program and destabilizing support for terrorism and proxies in the Middle East. But it's entirely possible to do so without jeopardizing the progress we've already made in containing Iran's nuclear program. Instead, President Trump's action today puts the U.S., Israel, and the entire world at risk by reopening the path to a nuclear Iran." (votesmart.org)
  • "Americans are exhausted by a seemingly endless war. We have lost too many brave service members, and we owe all who have served there an extraordinary debt of gratitude. It is time for the president to present a compelling plan for regional stability and an end to American military involvement -- not a vague plan to continue the failed strategies of the past." (votesmart.org)
  • "After 13 years and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the war in Afghanistan, Jeff is pushing for the American people to have an opportunity to weigh in before we commit more resources and more American troops past the end of this year. He thinks it is long past time to bring our sons and daughters from the longest war in American history." (votesmart.org)
  • Rated 0% by Center for Security Policy. (votesmart.org)
  • "That`s right. And the same analysis says that if the tariffs go up to 25 percent, it might be $1,500 to a family wiping out any little few dollars that the working-class families might have benefited from the 2017 tax bill. They never noticed an improvement. They will notice when they`re losing $1,000 to 1,500 out of their annual income." (votesmart.org)
  • "Merkley has long been a leader in calling out unfair trade agreements and their negative impacts on American workers. He is the author of the Level the Playing Field in Global Trade Act, legislation that would treat substandard labor and environmental standards as unfair international trade subsidies and empower the U.S. to fight back against these unfair trade practices that have undercut American workers." (votesmart.org)
  • Rated 100% by Public Citizen. (votesmart.org)
  • Voted in favor of HR 5430 - United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act. (votesmart.org)
This candidate has responded to a Political Courage Test in a previous election. As a continued effort to provide the American public with factual information on candidates running for public office, these archived responses are made available here.
The Political Courage Test asks candidates which items they will support if elected. It does not ask them to indicate which items they will oppose. Through extensive research of public polling data, we discovered that voters are more concerned with what candidates would support when elected to office, not what they oppose. If a candidate does not select a response to any part or all of any question, it does not necessarily indicate that the candidate is opposed to that particular item.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding abortion.

a) Abortions should always be illegal.
X b) Abortions should always be legal.
c) Abortions should be legal only within the first trimester.
d) Abortions should be legal when the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape.
e) Abortions should be legal when the life of the woman is endangered.
f) Dilation and extraction or "partial-birth" abortion procedures should be legal.
g) Medicare, Medicaid, and federal subsidies should be prohibited from being used on abortion procedures.
h) Other or expanded principles.

Indicate what federal funding levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category, you can use a number more than once.1) Budget Priorities2) Defense Spending3) TaxesIndicate what federal tax levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category, you can use a number more than once.Family Income TaxesOther TaxesDeductions/Credits

a) Agriculture
b) Arts
c) Defense
d) Education
e) Environment
f) FEMA
g) Homeland security
h) International aid
i) Law enforcement (Federal)
j) Law enforcement (State)
k) Medical research
l) National parks
m) Public health services
n) Scientific research
o) Space exploration programs
p) Transportation and highway infrastructure
q) United Nations
r) Welfare
s) Other or expanded categories
a) Armed forces personnel training
b) Intelligence operations
c) Military hardware
d) Modernization of weaponry and equipment
e) National missile defense
f) Pay for active duty personnel
g) Programs to improve troop retention rates
h) Research and development of new weapons
i) Troop and equipment readiness
j) Other or expanded categories
a) Less than $12,000
b) $12,001-$40,000
c) $40,001-$100,000
d) $100,001-$180,000
e) $180,001-$350,000
f) $350,001 and above
g) Other or expanded categories
a) Alcohol taxes
b) Capital gains taxes
c) Cigarette taxes
d) Corporate taxes
e) Gasoline taxes
f) Inheritance taxes
g) Other or expanded categories
a) Charitable contribution deduction
b) Child tax credit
c) Earned income tax credit
d) Medical expense deduction
e) Mortgage deduction
f) Student loan credit
g) Other or expanded categories
4) Do you support the permanent repeal of the federal estate tax?
5) Do you support requiring the federal budget to be balanced each year?
6) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding campaign finance and government reform.

a) Support increasing the amount individuals are permitted to contribute to federal campaigns.
b) Prohibit Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions to candidates for federal office.
c) Allow unregulated soft money campaign contributions to political parties or committees.
d) Remove all contribution limits on federal campaigns and parties.
e) Support prohibiting ads containing candidates' name that are paid for by third parties from airing 60 days before a primary and 30 days before a general federal election.
f) Support instant run-off voting (IRV).
g) Support designating Election Day as a national holiday.
h) Support giving the President the power of the line item veto for items concerning appropriations.
X i) Support limiting the President's use of signing statements in order to prevent an alternative interpretation of the bill.
j) Support a federal shield law to protect reporter-source privilege.
k) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding crime.

a) Support the use of the death penalty for federal crimes.
b) Eliminate the use of the death penalty for federal crimes.
c) Support programs to provide prison inmates with vocational and job-related skills and job-placement assistance when released.
X d) Support programs to provide prison inmates with drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
e) Reduce prison sentences for those who commit non-violent crimes.
X f) Support mandatory jail sentences for selling illegal drugs.
X g) Support strict penalties for internet crime (e.g. hacking, identity theft, worms/viruses).
X h) Require that crimes based on sexual orientation be prosecuted as federal hate crimes.
i) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding education.

X a) Support the federal government funding universal pre-K programs.
b) Allow parents to use vouchers to send their children to any public school.
c) Allow parents to use vouchers to send their children to any private or religious school.
d) Allow teachers and professionals to receive federal funding to establish charter or magnet schools.
X e) Increase funding for the Pell Grant program.
X f) Decrease interest rates of Stafford Loans.
X g) Support federal tax incentives to help families save for college.
h) Ban university financial aid officers from owning stock in or accepting gifts from student loan lenders.
i) Require universities to disclose financial relationships with lenders.
j) Support federal education standards and testing requirements for K-12 students (No Child Left Behind).
k) Eliminate all federal education standards and testing requirements for K-12 students (No Child Left Behind).
l) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding employment.

X a) Increase funding for national job-training programs that retrain displaced workers or teach skills needed in today’s job market.
b) Reduce government regulation of the private sector.
c) Encourage employers to offer child care services, flex-time scheduling, comp-time, and unpaid leave for family emergencies.
X d) Increase the federal minimum wage.
X e) Support the right of workers to unionize.
f) Eliminate all federal programs designed to reduce unemployment.
X g) Include sexual orientation in federal anti-discrimination laws.
h) Include gender identity in federal anti-discrimination laws.
i) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding the environment and energy.

X a) Strengthen the regulation and enforcement of the Clean Water Act.
X b) Strengthen the regulation and enforcement of the Clean Air Act.
c) Support increased development of traditional energy resources (e.g. coal, natural gas, oil).
X d) Strengthen emission controls on all gasoline and diesel-powered engines, including cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles.
X e) Strengthen fuel efficiency standards on all gasoline and diesel-powered engines, including cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles.
f) Support domestic oil exploration in areas that are currently restricted.
X g) Encourage further development and use of alternative fuels.
h) Support the use of ethanol as an alternative fuel.
i) Support research and development of nuclear reactors as an alternative energy source.
X j) Allow energy producers to trade pollution credits under "cap and trade" laws.
k) Support international mandatory emission targets to limit global warming.
l) Support international voluntary emission targets to limit global warming.
m) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding guns.On (c) and (d), indicate what levels (#1-6) you support for the following categories.

a) Allow individuals to carry concealed guns.
b) Ban the sale, ownership or possession of handguns except by law enforcement and other government officials.
c) Enforcement of existing restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
d) Restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
e) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding health.

a) Implement a universal healthcare program to guarantee coverage to all Americans, regardless of income.
b) Expand eligibility for tax-free medical savings accounts.
X c) Allow the importation of prescription drugs into the United States.
d) Support expanding prescription drug coverage under Medicare.
X e) Offer tax credits to individuals and small businesses to offset the cost of insurance coverage.
X f) Support expanding child healthcare programs.
g) Providing healthcare is not a responsibility of the federal government.
h) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding immigration.

a) Decrease the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country.
b) Establish English as the official national language.
c) Support a temporary worker program.
X d) Support harsher financial punishments for those who knowingly employ illegal immigrants.
e) Support amnesty for illegal immigrants already working in the United States.
f) Illegal immigrants should have to return to their countries of origin before being considered for citizenship.
g) Illegal immigrants should be given a pathway to citizenship.
h) Support merit-based visas over family-based visas.
i) Other or expanded principles

International AidIndicate which principles you support (if any) regarding international aid.International PolicyIndicate which principles you support (if any) regarding international policy.International TradeIndicate which principles you support (if any) regarding international trade.

a) Support the United States granting aid to countries when extraordinary circumstances cause disaster and threaten civilian lives.
b) Support the United States granting aid to countries when it is in the security interests of the United States.
c) Eliminate United States aid for any nation with documented human rights abuses.
d) Aid granted by the United States should be scaled back and eventually eliminated.
e) Other or expanded principles
Yes a) Should the United States continue to provide leadership in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?
Yes b) Should the United States support the creation of a Palestinian state?
Yes c) Should the United States impose greater international sanctions on Iran if it continues to defy United Nations mandates?
d) Should the United States support the Lebanese government against insurgent forces?
e) Should the United States maintain its troop levels in Iraq?
Yes f) Should the United States withdraw its troops from Iraq?
g) Discuss your proposals for Iraq.
h) Should the United States apply greater economic and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea if it fails to abide by its agreement to suspend its nuclear program?
i) Should the United States increase financial support for Afghanistan?
j) Should the United States increase military support for Afghanistan?
k) Should the United States trade nuclear fuel to India for civilian purposes?
l) Should the United States decrease financial support for Pakistan?
m) Should the United States decrease military support for Pakistan?
n) Should the United States be involved in bringing an end to the violence in Darfur, Sudan?
o) Should the United States be involved in bringing an end to the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
p) Should the United States provide economic and military support to the Transitional Government of Somalia?
q) Should the United States use sanctions to encourage the government of Zimbabwe to end its human rights abuses?
r) Should the United States support the creation of an independent nation of Kosovo?
s) Other or expanded principles
a) Do you support the United States imposing economic sanctions on China?
b) Do you support the United States imposing trade sanctions on Venezuela?
c) Do you support the United States involvement in free trade agreements?
d) Do you support the United States involvement in intergovernmental organizations dedicated to trade?
I will work to end unfair trade deals which encourage and even reward corporations for shipping our jobs overseas.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding national security.

a) Do you support using military tribunals to try suspected terrorists when ordinary civilian courts are deemed inappropriate or impractical?
b) Should law enforcement agencies have greater discretion to monitor domestic communications, to prevent future terrorist attacks?
c) Should the United States hold foreign states accountable for terrorists who operate in their country?
Yes d) Should the federal government increase funding to states and cities for homeland security?
e) Do you support pre-emptive military strikes against countries deemed to be a threat to United States national security?
f) Do you support the creation of a federal identification card system?
g) Do you support long-term use of National Guard troops to supplement the armed forces in assignments overseas?
h) Should the United States expand its missile defense shield?
i) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding social issues.

Yes a) Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?
b) Do you support a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman?
Yes c) Do you support federal funding for research on existing embryonic stem cell lines?
Yes d) Do you support federal funding to create lines of stem cells from new embryos?
e) Should the federal government consider race and gender in government contracting decisions?
f) Should the federal government continue affirmative action programs?
g) Should the federal government regulate internet gambling?
h) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding Social Security.

a) Allow workers to invest a portion of their payroll tax in private accounts that they manage themselves.
b) Ensure the viability of Social Security by increasing the payroll tax.
c) Decrease benefits paid to retirees.
d) Support proportional increases of Social Security benefits based on the cost of living index.
e) Raise the retirement age for individual eligibility to receive full Social Security benefits.
Social Security is a bedrock commitment from our government to every American. I will do everything in my power to protect attempts to privatize or undermine Social Security.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding welfare and poverty.

X a) Require welfare recipients to spend at least 40 hours a week in a combination of work and training programs.
b) Continue to give states and local governments flexibility in and responsibility for welfare programs through federal block grants.
c) Support housing assistance for welfare recipients.
d) Abolish all federal welfare programs.
e) Other or expanded principles
Please explain in a total of 100 words or less, your top two or three priorities if elected. If they require additional funding for implementation, please explain how you would obtain this funding.

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