SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown and Senator Jeff Merkley released statements on Wednesday after the swearing-in of President Joe Biden as 46th President of the United States — both of them celebrating the change in leadership, and alluding to a bill that would overhaul voting in the country.
Sen. Merkley is one sponsor of the For the People Act, which promises to reform the nation's campaign finance laws, expand vote-by-mail, automatically register eligible citizens, require greater accessibility for disabled and older voters, and ban false information about elections, among a number of other measures.
A similar version of the bill was passed in the House in 2019, but was blocked in the Senate by outgoing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Governor Kate Brown:
"Today marks a new chapter for our country as we welcome President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to the White House. It is an especially extraordinary moment for our nation to celebrate the historic swearing-in of our first female, Black and Asian Vice President — and the incredibly diverse Cabinet that President Biden has nominated. Our government should be reflective of the people it represents, and now Americans across the country will see themselves in the people holding leadership positions.
"We have waited a long time to have a strong, competent and trustworthy partner we can work with at the federal level — and now more than ever, we need that federal leadership to help states beat COVID-19, once and for all. As we still face what could be the darkest days of the pandemic, President Biden has laid out a strong vision and clear plan, based on science, for how the federal government will help the American people, and governors across the country — starting with the announcement of a much-needed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. I look forward to working with the President, Vice President and Congress on getting this ground-breaking package across the finish line.
"I also look forward to working with the new Congress on their For the People Act, which would establish Vote-By-Mail and Automatic Voter Registration nationally.
"Election after election, here in Oregon, we set the example for our country. Our 30-year-old Vote-by-Mail system took a turn on the national stage as states across the country shifted to voting by mail, and voting early, to enable people to vote safely and securely.
"Now, the work begins to make that permanent. I am so very proud that Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Amy Klobuchar have crafted this comprehensive legislation, which will be the first bill taken up by the new Congress. If passed, this bill will require the reforms we started in Oregon to be adopted by every state in the country. Automatic Voter Registration and Vote-By-Mail should be available to every citizen in this country.
"I hope that all of you will join me in supporting the passage of the For the People Act in the Senate. Because, the right to vote is fundamental — and it is sacred.
"While there are many challenges ahead, on this historic day I remain hopeful. We are determined as ever to rise, rebuild, and reinvent a more just and equitable country."
Senator Jeff Merkley:
“In the midst of one of the darkest winters in American history, today is cause for celebration and resolve. Today, our nation begins the hard work of turning the page on a dark chapter marked by racism, division, and incivility, as we set out to write a new one of hope, freedom, and equality for all.
“It won’t be easy. First and foremost, we must face and defeat a devastating pandemic that has already claimed 400,000 American lives and robbed millions of their livelihoods. But we must also reckon with deeper and more long-lasting forces that have shaped everything about our lives and our politics, up to and including the current pandemic.
“For decades, powerful special interests have done everything in their power to rig our economy and our society in their favor. They’ve flooded Washington with dark money, and stoked fears and pitted groups of Americans against each other in order to protect themselves. Their project has done real, lasting damage to the fabric of our republic, and it’s on each of us to do our part to restore it.
“I have every confidence that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are well equipped to lead that charge with the skill, compassion, and determination it will require. And I am fully committed to doing all that I can to ensure that the Senate is a strong partner to their efforts—from tackling the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis, to passing the For the People Act and reinvigorating our democracy, to addressing directly our national shame of racism and discrimination and ensuring that every hardworking American has a roof over their head and food on their table. Let’s get to work.”
Congressman Peter DeFazio:
“As we take the historic step of inaugurating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, our first Black and Asian-American woman Vice-President, we have the opportunity to turn the page on the turmoil of the past four years.
“With the Biden Administration at the helm, I look forward to working to solve our nation’s most urgent crises: overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and providing real relief to the millions of families who have been impacted by the economic recession, expanding voting rights and democracy reforms so that all Americans can make their voice heard at the ballot box, increasing access to affordable healthcare and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, addressing the existential threat of climate change, fighting for racial justice, tackling economic inequality, and finally passing comprehensive legislation to rebuild and modernize our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
“I look forward to the many accomplishments we will achieve in these next four years to better the lives of the American people.”
Ron Wyden took to twitter saying, "Today our country starts a new chapter to build back better, for everyone. The road ahead won’t be easy, but democracy is worth the effort. Let’s get to work."