Suburban congressmen starting new term try to strike bipartisan tone
Local members of Congress used the beginning of a new term Tuesday to look ahead, talking about bipartisanship and working together at a time when federal lawmakers have a reputation for bickering.
There was only one change in the suburban delegation to Congress with Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Dold of Kenilworth being sworn in to replace Democrat Brad Schneider. Dold's beginning his second term, having served from 2011 to 2013.
He said Tuesday voters expect both parties to work together after a Congress that flirted with deadlines and led to a government shutdown.
"I don't know too many people who think Washington is working," Dold said.
Local Democrats echoed hopeful notes as they were sworn in, too.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville starts his second term from the new 11th District and is the only physicist serving the in the House. He said he hopes the future includes more compromise and less focus on who will control the chamber in two years.
"People are less wound up about control," Foster said.
Tuesday's swearing in marks the start of a third full term for Foster. Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston starts her ninth term, and Republican Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton starts his fifth.
Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren of Plano starts his third term, and Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates started her second term. Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago starts his third full term.
Roskam, Hultgren and Dold all voted Tuesday for House Speaker John Boehner to keep the gavel during a floor vote that saw 25 Republicans back someone else or decline to vote.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, was sworn into his fourth 6-year term in the Senate and remains the chamber's No. 2 Democrat. But the dynamic has changed now that the GOP has control.
"We can, and we must, come together and work across the aisle in order to meet America's biggest challenges," Durbin said.
Sen. Mark Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, was the only Illinois official serving at the Capitol who wasn't sworn in Tuesday as he's four years into his 6-year term. Now, though, he's a member of the majority party.
Kirk emphasized teamwork with Durbin, who helped run Kirk's office after he suffered a stroke in 2012.
"The issues that matter for us are the ones that directly impact our vibrant state, and I pledge to continue working with my friend here in the Senate," Kirk said.
The new Congress will no doubt see some conflict, though.
Kirk faces re-election in 2016, and both Duckworth and Foster have been mentioned as possible contenders, though neither has publicly moved forward. President Barack Obama threatened to veto Keystone XL pipeline legislation, and Schakowsky was critical of Republicans who wanted to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act and block changes to immigration laws.
"I think that shows they're fighting last year's war," she said.