Merkley on PBS: "Paralysis will not be acceptable."

Today, Jeff Merkley appeared on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, along with two other new senators - Mark Udall of Colorado (D) and Jim Risch of Idaho (R).

A big part of the discussion was about high expectations for an Obama presidency - and whether Udall and Merkley will be part of a "Team Obama":

MARGARET WARNER: Now, Mark Udall, in Colorado, you're one of the states that they not only elected you, but they switched their allegiance in the presidential contest from Republican to Democrat. Do you see yourself as part of an Obama sweep and, therefore, as a part of a sort of Team Obama coming to Washington?

MARK UDALL: Well, Colorado has been trending this way, as has the entire West. But I think Gov. Risch really put his finger on it. In the West, we're pragmatic. We like to solve problems and grab opportunity.

And we've done that here in Colorado with renewable energy. We've done that in solving a budgetary crisis that was hamstringing our educational institutions and our infrastructure needs.

So there's this combined movement out here that -- let's buckle down, get to work, and remember, as Governor Risch said, we're all Americans in the end. And the best ideas aren't Democratic or Republican party ideas; they're American ideas.

MARGARET WARNER: But, Jeff Merkley, going to you, I mean, President-elect Obama is counting on this heftier Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate. Do you think the voters of your state want you to stick with the president most of the time?

JEFF MERKLEY: Well, I think they expect a very close partnership. No, this gives us right now 57 folks in a working majority to make sure that the filibuster is not used to paralyze our nation.

Paralysis will not be acceptable in the U.S. Senate. We've got to be able to get bills to the floor and be able to move an agenda to make things happen.

It'd be enormously frustrating if we are -- a situation, with a tremendous, visionary president, a strong team, but unable to move bills through the Senate. So I expect a lot of partnership and collaboration, a very bipartisan, problem-solving approach to putting this nation back on track.


MARGARET WARNER: I'd like to close with a quick whip around, if I might, on this question of expectations, because President-elect Obama is clearly concerned that Americans have inflated expectations about what can be done.

And beginning with you, Jeff Merkley, you've all been out on the hustings now for months. How concerned are you that the American public has too high expectations for what can be done?

JEFF MERKLEY: Well, I'm really not concerned about that. What I'm concerned about is that the Senate actually fulfill those expectations. I think we need to move quickly on health care, on the war in Iraq, on jobs, certainly on a new, smart, energy policy. We need to seize this moment in 2009 to really move this nation forward.

Watch the full interview here, or read the full transcript here.


  • Taylor M (unverified)

    I know this is kumbaya season for the Senators-elect, but I'm pretty surprised by how moderate Jim Risch comes off. Did you hear what he said near the beginning about the importance of getting out of Iraq? He sounded like he was reading Obama's September talking points.

    Also, hearing the words "Jeff Merkley from Oregon" makes me just a little proud. No more Gordon Smith talking up Sarah Palin! No more right-wing votes in the name of Oregon! For the first time in 12 years, I'm not mostly embarrassed about one of my Senators. I'm giddy about Sen.-elect Merkley (and it's just starting to sink in).

  • ally (unverified)
    <h2>Jeff looks and sounds great here. Nice going!</h2>
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