The U.S. Senate is an institution where seniority matters. Length of service dictates plum committee assignments and provides an opportunity to help draft national policies.
Since 1992, Democrat Patty Murray has been reelected four times. Without the showiness of some of her Senate colleagues, she established herself as both a strong advocate for progressive Democratic values as well as a deal-maker able to find common ground for the good of Washington and the nation.
Voters should enthusiastically return Murray to the Senate. As her stature has grown, she is able to wield influence for Washington not seen since the days of the late Sens. Henry M. Jackson and Warren Magnusson.
Murray chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. She is also a member of the Appropriations, Budget, and Veterans Affairs committees. As Assistant Democratic Leader, Murray is the third most powerful member of the Senate Democratic caucus.
To combat inflation, Murray will continue to straighten out supply chain kinks by helping ports and boosting the chip industry. Bringing down medical costs and increasing access to child care are also key.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of national abortion rights will create interstate policy challenges. In an interview, Murray related concerns she heard from health care workers who live in Idaho and work in Washington. They fear their jobs could put them in jail in their hometowns.
“We need to work hard to try and pass a law in Congress to protect people if they cross state lines,” she told the editorial board. “Which seems crazy in America, that you can’t go across state lines to get the health care that you need.”
Look almost anywhere in the state, and you can find evidence of Murray’s legislative handiwork.
She secured nearly $100 million for housing and services to support people experiencing homelessness in Washington through the federal American Rescue Plan Act. She directed tens of millions of dollars over the years for environmental restoration in Puget Sound and the Columbia River Basin. She helped negotiate the bipartisan No Surprises Act in 2020, which established patient protections for medical costs.
The daughter of a World War II vet, Murray has championed those who served the country. She oversaw the expansion of a veteran caregivers program and directed funds to veteran housing. Recently, she has criticized Veterans Affairs over a faulty electronic medical records system.
Unfinished work includes reforming the filibuster so that lawmakers who hold up legislation must be physically present in the Senate.
She is able to work with Republicans on meaningful legislation. Her 2013 budget deal with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was cited as a model for successful negotiation by the Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings. She worked with Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., on transportation funding. With Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., she introduced a bill to strengthen pandemic preparedness.
Murray faces 17 other candidates in the Aug. 2 primary. Only Republican Tiffany Smiley presents a serious challenge.
A nurse and spouse of a wounded Iraq War veteran, Smiley is a first-time candidate from the Tri-Cities. She was a leading proponent of the Trump administration’s Veterans Affairs reform, which allowed more veterans to receive health services outside the department’s system.
Smiley faults Murray for not doing more for vets, for spending too much, for not securing the southern border. Her criticisms largely fail to hit the mark. Capable and energetic, she should remain engaged with civic affairs on the local level.
If elections are a job review, Murray can be well-judged by what she has delivered to the state, and the values and experience she brings to the national debate. Washingtonians should reelect Murray.