Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley is coming to Hermiston.

The Democrat will hold a town hall meeting Wednesday from 4-5 p.m. at the Hermiston Conference Center. Merkley's visit comes on the heels of a visit from Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon's senior U.S. senator and a fellow Democrat.

Merkley recently sponsored legislation to ensure new mothers can express breast milk or breastfeed their infants privately during breaks at their workplace. He also is one of 14 co-sponsors of the Healthy Americans Act, a bill Wyden and Republican Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah introduced to create a private health care system that provides universal insurance coverage. And, in a June 10 speech from the Senate floor, Merkley made waves when he attacked Republicans for using scare-words and demonizing rhetoric to try and kill health care reform.

"It's irresponsible to utilize a roadmap of rhetoric that comes from polling about how to scare people," Merkley said in an interview with the East Oregonian.

Merkley said the U.S. spends 18 percent of its gross domestic product on health care, compared to 10 percent for Europe. Improving efficiency of the system is essential, Merkley said, and it's too costly not to fix.

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