Illinois sends smaller, more Democratic congressional delegation to Washington

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SPRINGFIELD — The swearing in of a smaller, more Democratic Illinois congressional delegation in the nation’s capital was delayed Tuesday as Republicans, who took narrow control of the House, struggled to elect one of their own speaker.

The House adjourned after three failed attempts to elect a speaker. They plan to reconvene on Wednesday.  

Illinois will be represented in Washington by 17 members of the House. The state has lost at least one congressional seat every ten years since the 1940s, when it had a 27-member delegation, due to slow population growth.

The delegation includes 14 Democrats and three Republicans, creating the largest Democratic majority since the height of the New Deal in the 1930s.



Members gather on the floor during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday in Washington. 




ANDREW HARNIK, ASSOCIATED PRESS



The three Republicans Illinois is sending to Washington — Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro; Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria; and Rep. Mary Miller, R-Oakland — are the fewest ever.

Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, who gained a national profile as a critic of former President Donald Trump and a member of the Jan. 6 select committee, did not seek reelection. He was drawn into the same district as LaHood, in any case. Former Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, lost to Miller, who was supported by Trump, in a heated Republican primary last June.

Miller, a far-right firebrand, was one of 20 Republicans on Tuesday who voted against House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Ca., for speaker. On the first three ballots, Miller voted for Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio.

Bost and LaHood, on the other hand, voted for McCarthy. The lack of electing a speaker has brought everything else, including the swearing in of new members, to a halt.

Four new members from Illinois are to be sworn in once a speaker is elected: Rep. Nikki Budzinski, D-Springfield; Rep. Jonathan Jackson, D-Chicago; Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago; and Rep. Eric Sorensen, D-Moline.

Jackson succeeds former Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Chicago, and Sorensen succeeds former Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline while Budzinski and Ramirez won open seats.

“I’m excited to get to work for our communities in central and northwest Illinois," Sorensen said in a statement. "I am ready to get to work to solve the problems that face the people in our district. The work of the people’s House is to represent all constituents and I’m ready to continue being their trusted voice.”

Sorensen and the others will join a House with a slim 222-213 Republican majority. It also includes a record number of women, Latinos and openly LGBTQ members.

Ramirez the first Latina congresswoman elected from Illinois while Sorensen is the first openly gay congressman elected from the state. Budzinski is the first woman to represent certain portions of central and southern Illinois.

“I think diversity and inclusion is positive and I think it brings in more fresh ideas, new ideas, new approaches — I think — to solving big problems,” Budzinski told Lee Enterprises in an interview hours before the new Congress convened. “And we have a lot of problems that need to be addressed in the 13th Congressional District, but (also) in this country.”

In a way, Illinois Democrats ensured a different congressional makeup with their creative cartography skills, passing a gerrymandered map last year that created districts giving the party influence disproportionate to its vote share.

Budzinski and Sorensen’s districts connect several downstate urban areas, which are pockets of Democratic strength in what is otherwise a conservative region of the state, while Ramirez won a new Latino plurality district based in Chicago’s Northwest Side and western suburbs.

The district was drawn to given Latinos, a group that increased in population over the past decade, the opportunity to elect a second Illinois member.

From Bost to Budzinski, members say the first day of a new Congress is akin to the first day of school, filled with excitement and optimism as well as logistical tasks, from picking up their member pins and voting cards.

Budzinski, a former official in President Joe Biden and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administrations who also spent a decade working in the labor movement, is no stranger to government, but says serving as an elected official in her own right for the first time is “a tremendous honor.”

“I had a lot of unique opportunities to be behind the scenes and see a lot of different issues being negotiated,” Budzinski said. “And I think some of that experience and the work that I put in at the staff level will help inform and hopefully make me a great representative on the other side now as an elected official.”

Though she has not received committee assignments yet, Budzinski indicated agriculture and infrastructure as two areas of particular importance for her district, which stretches from East St. Louis to Champaign-Urbana.

Budzinski said she’s ready to get into the weeds on policy, hoping, for example, to work on the farm bill, the once-every-five-years legislation that deals with everything from subsides for farmers to funding for food stamps.

“I am a workhorse, not a show horse,” Budzinski said.

On the other side of the Capitol rotunda, Sen. Tammy Duckworth was sworn in for her second six-year term in the Senate. She returns after easily being reelected in November.



House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., bottom right, is applauded after he was nominated to be the new Speaker of the House by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., on Tuesday. 




ALEX BRANDON, ASSOCIATED PRESS



“Over the next six years, I will continue to support working families by helping lower everyday costs, create more good-paying local jobs and strengthen our economy at home and with global partners,” Duckworth said in a statement.

The Senate remains in Democratic control.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the no. 2 Democrat in the chamber, will continue to chair the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, giving him outsized influence on nominations to the federal bench.

Photos: Scenes from the 1st day of the 118th Congress

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., emerges from a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference as he pursues the speaker of the House role as the 118th Congress convenes, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)




J. Scott Applewhite



Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., stops to speak with reporters as she walks from a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference during the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)




Carolyn Kaster



Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., right, recites the Pledge of Allegiance during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)




Alex Brandon



House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., emerges from a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference as he pursues the speaker of the House role as the 118th Congress convenes, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023. Detractors in the conservative House Freedom Caucus were making demands on McCarthy for in turn for their support. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)




J. Scott Applewhite



Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., stands with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)




Andrew Harnik



Paul Pelosi, husband of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., sits in the gallery during the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)




Andrew Harnik



Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, poses for a photo during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)




Andrew Harnik



Rep.-elect George Santos, R-N.Y., top center, sits in the House chamber on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)




Alex Brandon



Rep.-elect George Santos, R-N.Y. sits in the chamber during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)




Andrew Harnik



Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., left, the incoming chief deputy whip for House Republicans, walks with Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the incoming House majority whip, as they arrive for a closed-door Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, opening day of the 118th Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)




J. Scott Applewhite



Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is seated in the House chamber on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)




Alex Brandon



Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., greets lawmakers in the chamber on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)




Alex Brandon



Republicans applaud as Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., nominates Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as House Speaker during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)




Andrew Harnik



Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., arrives during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)




Andrew Harnik



Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., stands with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)




Alex Brandon



Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., arrives during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)




Andrew Harnik



House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., bottom right, is applauded after he was nominated to be the new Speaker of the House by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., in the House chamber on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)




Alex Brandon



House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., walks from the office of the Speaker of the House on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023. There is no name plaque yet above the entrance. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)




Carolyn Kaster



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January 3, 2023 at 05:38PM

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