Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement after Senate passage of a budget framework for fiscal year 2014.
"For too long, our economy hasn't been working for too many middle class Oregonians. This budget lays out a path to get America back to work. It's a path that will create millions of jobs. It's a path that will get our deficits under control without mortgaging our future or piling additional burdens on already stretched families and retirees. It's a path that keeps our commitment to our seniors and makes the investments in education, infrastructure, and science that we need to keep our commitment to our children. This budget reflects our values as a nation.
"We know that a growing and prosperous middle class is the key to boosting economic growth and putting us back on track as a nation. This budget does that."
The Senate budget includes many of Senator Merkley's priorities. During markup of the budget, the Senate Budget Committee approved two amendments he offered, one on creating jobs in the woods by maintaining healthy forests, and one on strengthening enforcement of our trade agreements.
On the floor, the Senate approved Senator Merkley's amendment to boost research in potential breakthrough clean energy technology through the ARPA-E program.
The Senate also adopted his amendment to facilitate ending the "Too Big to Jail" policy and encourage the criminal prosecution of U.S. financial institutions that break the law, regardless of size.
"The constitution guarantees equality under the law, and no bank or other corporation should be in a 'prosecution-free zone,'" said Merkley.
The amendment is a response to Attorney General Eric Holder's decision not to prosecute HSBC for money laundering and violating US sanctions laws out of concern that prosecution might disturb financial markets.