WBEZ | senate http://www.wbez.org/tags/senate Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Export-Import Bank renewal included in House-approved transportation bill http://www.wbez.org/news/export-import-bank-renewal-included-house-approved-transportation-bill-113664 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_221286814508.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In adopting a six-year transportation bill to fund highway and transit projects Thursday, the House also approved the revival of the Export-Import Bank, which has been idle since its charter expired in June.</p><p>A similar bill has already been approved by the Senate, including a provision that renews the Ex-Im Bank&#39;s charter. Before the legislation goes to President Obama, the two chambers will have to iron out differences between the two bills.</p><p>Titled the&nbsp;<a href="http://transportation.house.gov/strr-act/#top2">Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act</a>, the House measure authorizes up to $325 billion in spending to repair and replace America&#39;s roads, bridges and rails &mdash; but it only provides funding for the first half of the bill&#39;s six-year window.</p><p>NPR&#39;s David Schaper reports:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;After 35-short term extensions over the last several years, this long-awaited long term transportation spending plan does provide state and local planners with needed certainty that some federal funding will be flowing for the next three years.</em></p><p><em>&quot;But critics point out that with no increase in the federal gas tax and no other new funding sources, this bill just holds spending on highway and transit construction projects flat, even though costs are rising.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>The House&#39;s version of the bill doesn&#39;t include limitations on the Ex-Im Bank, an entity that had been targeted by conservative Republicans who said it amounted to &quot;corporate welfare,&quot; as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/25/451749399/supporters-in-congress-make-new-attempt-to-revive-the-export-import-bank">NPR&#39;s Jim Zarroli reported</a>&nbsp;last week.</p><p>&quot;Created during the Depression, the Ex-Im Bank provides insurance and loan guarantees to overseas buyers of American products,&quot; Jim said. He added, &quot;The bank also provides guarantees to U.S. companies doing business overseas to ensure they get paid.&quot;</p><p>After its charter lapsed, the Ex-Im Bank posted a note to its website explaining that it would attempt to manage a &quot;$107 billion portfolio of outstanding obligations&quot; until it is back in business.</p><p>When it approved the transportation measure, the Senate did so by a 64-29 vote. The House approved its version by a vote of 363-64, but not before holding votes on more than 80 amendments &mdash; a process&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/house-passes-highway-bill-with-export-import-bank-renewal-1446740235">The Wall Street Journal</a>&nbsp;says was the first test of new House Speaker Paul Ryan&#39;s &quot;inclusive leadership style.&quot;</p><p>Some of the amendments that were defeated,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/05/us-usa-congress-transportation-idUSKCN0SU2G320151105#FDTSROlqlSc4uYe6.97">Reuters says</a>, &quot;would have prohibited financing help [from the Ex-Im Bank] for countries with sovereign wealth fund assets of more than $100 billion or involving U.S. exporters whose chief executives earn more than 100 times the median U.S. wage.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/05/454900331/export-import-bank-renewal-is-included-in-house-approved-transportation-bill" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 05 Nov 2015 16:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/export-import-bank-renewal-included-house-approved-transportation-bill-113664 Ball could be in State Senate’s court for a temporary state budget http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-14/ball-could-be-state-senate%E2%80%99s-court-temporary-state-budget-112386 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/17123235909_bc94df9fcd_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/214536455&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">The Illinois House passed a temporary budget on Thursday and there&rsquo;s an important amendment as the bill advances. It includes a requirement to pay state workers through the end of the month. The Democrats bill would also fund many social service providers. Now, the Senate needs to vote on if it can go forward in its new form. Both sides of the aisle are attacking their colleagues for slinging for party leaders. So what do lawmakers think of the impasse and what needs to be done next? We talk to a Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul and Republican Senator Matt Murphy about what they will do to get a state budget.</span></p></p> Fri, 10 Jul 2015 13:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-14/ball-could-be-state-senate%E2%80%99s-court-temporary-state-budget-112386 Election results and U.S. foreign policy http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-11-05/election-results-and-us-foreign-policy-111067 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP889567958529.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In last night&#39;s midterm elections the Republicans won a majority in the Senate. We&#39;ll find out how that could affect U.S. foreign policy from James Lindsay, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-election-results-and-foreign-policy/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-election-results-and-foreign-policy.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-election-results-and-foreign-policy" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Election results and U.S. foreign policy" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 11:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-11-05/election-results-and-us-foreign-policy-111067 State senate bill mandates labels on genetically engineered food http://www.wbez.org/news/state-senate-bill-mandates-labels-genetically-engineered-food-108310 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/GM Foods 130807 AY_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A proposed Illinois senate bill aims to label all genetically engineered food. A hearing on the bill takes place this Wednesday in the southern Illinois town of Carbondale.</p><p>Emily Carroll of the advocacy group Food and Water Watch supports the bill..</p><p>&ldquo;This is not a ban, it&rsquo;s not about economics, it&rsquo;s not about science, this is just about the consumer&rsquo;s right to know,&rdquo; Carroll said. &ldquo;We can&rsquo;t track the effects of genetically engineered food because right now they aren&rsquo;t labelled. This is a huge public health experiment but without the information for people to actually know what they&rsquo;re eating.&rdquo;</p><p>The legislation won&rsquo;t address the merits or drawbacks of genetic engineering, says the sponsor of the bill, Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria). He says he&rsquo;ll leave that question to experts and scientists.</p><p>The last public hearing on the labelling bill is scheduled for September 17th in Chicago. Similar legislation earlier this summer passed in Maine and Connecticut, but failed in California last fall. More than 10 other states are considering labeling measures. In polls like these two, Americans support labelling genetically engineered food.</p><p>Back when the California bill was being debated, the American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement saying the science is clear -- &ldquo;crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.&rdquo; AAAS says the Food and Drug Administration requires special labelling on food only if there is a special health or environmental risk without that information. It concludes that in this case, &ldquo;legally mandated labels will only mislead and falsely alarm consumers.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not that simple, says Jennifer Kuzma, an associate professor of science and technology policy at the University of Minnesota. Last fall, she reviewed the scientific literature on genetically engineered food.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t really say that all genetically engineered foods are safe or unsafe,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>For example, scientists could take a scorpion toxin and put it into a corn plant, or an allergen from shrimp or seafood and put it into corn. Kuzma says that&rsquo;s probably not very safe. On the other hand, she points out plants have naturally occurring toxins to defend themselves against insects. For example, if farmers used conventional methods to breed potatoes that have more of their natural toxins, than those potatoes might not be safe for humans to eat. She concludes that both ways are capable of producing unsafe crops.</p><p>Kuzma says there are arguments for and against labelling, but points out it comes down to how much people trust the food industry.</p><p>&ldquo;Often these decisions about these crops are made behind closed doors, and all of a sudden, people are presented with &lsquo;oh, it&rsquo;s on the market and and I&rsquo;m eating it? Really?&rsquo; I think that can anger people.&rdquo;</p><p>She stresses safety is not just a scientific issue, but a social construction.</p><p>&ldquo;I can say, &lsquo;I&rsquo;ve tested this, and it showed no health effects over the two-year life of a rat, that doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean that it&rsquo;s safe for humans to eat over a lifetime,&rdquo; Kuzma said. &ldquo;I think we need to decide what is safe as a society, what will we accept in terms of uncertainties that we&rsquo;re willing to deal with in order to reap the benefits of some of these crops.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him @Alan_Yu039.</em></p></p> Tue, 06 Aug 2013 17:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-senate-bill-mandates-labels-genetically-engineered-food-108310 Pritzker faces few tough questions at Senate hearing http://www.wbez.org/news/pritzker-faces-few-tough-questions-senate-hearing-107341 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP090520015810.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago businesswoman and current Commerce secretary nominee Penny Pritzker faced few tough questions at her Senate hearing Thursday. Pritzker, a long-time friend of and fundraiser for President Barack Obama, was nominated to the post earlier this month.</p><p>Pritzker seemed prepared for the two-hour hearing, answering a questions on topics including cyber security, job creation, manufacturing, travel and the fishing industry.</p><p>&quot;The calls you&rsquo;ll get will be about fish,&quot; Alaska Senator Mark Begich (D) told Pritzker. &quot;You will think they&rsquo;re about trade and agreements and tourism&nbsp; - it&rsquo;s gonna be about fish.&quot;</p><p>Pritzker was expected to face tough questioning on a few issues. Her family owned 50 percent of the Superior Bank of Chicago, which failed after losing millions of dollars on risky mortgage loans to borrowers with bad credit. Republican Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the ranking member on the committee, was the only senator to inquire about Pritzker&rsquo;s role in the bank&rsquo;s collapse.</p><p>&quot;Unfortunately, when problems arose, my uncle had recently passed away,&quot; Pritzker responded, saying she was never an officer of the bank or involved in management. &quot;I stepped in on behalf of the 50 percent ownership of my family to try and salvage the situation.&quot;</p><p>Pritzker said after the bank failed, she went to the FDIC herself, and her family voluntarily agreed to pay $450 million.</p><p>When Thune asked Pritzker what she&rsquo;d say to the depositors affected by the bank&rsquo;s failure, she responded that she regretted the outcome of the bank.</p><p>&quot;I feel very badly about that,&quot; she added.</p><p>Pritzker was also questioned about her family&rsquo;s offshore trusts, an issue that was expected to be a point of conflict at the hearing.</p><p>&quot;I am the beneficiary of off-shore family trusts that were set up when I was a little girl,&quot; Pritzker said. &quot;I didn&rsquo;t create them. I don&rsquo;t direct them. I don&rsquo;t control them. I have asked the trustee to remove themselves and appoint a US trustee.&quot;</p><p>Rocky relations between labor unions and the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, where Pritzker is a board member, barely entered the questioning. Union members of Unite Here in Chicago have protested Pritzker&rsquo;s nomination over low wages.</p><p>Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) mentioned the back and forth between the union and hotel management in her questioning, but didn&rsquo;t directly ask Pritzker about her role.</p><p>Pritzker was introduced at the hearing by both Illinois U.S. Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin. Kirk was reportedly on the fence at first about Pritzker&rsquo;s nomination, but came out with his endorsement earlier this week.</p><p>&quot;I see her as a voice for business that the president will have to heed,&quot; Kirk told the committee Thursday.</p><p>Pritzker&rsquo;s nomination still has to face the full Senate.</p><p><em>The Associated Press contributed to this report.</em></p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 15:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/pritzker-faces-few-tough-questions-senate-hearing-107341 Legislators warn residents of compromises on immigration reform http://www.wbez.org/news/legislators-warn-residents-compromises-immigration-reform-106512 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/DurbinGutierrez_130405_acm(1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Luis Gutierrez Thursday warned that a senate immigration reform bill in the works might not address all of the problems facing residents living illegally in the United States.</p><p>They spoke to residents of the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Little Village in Chicago. They shared their optimism about a proposal from the team of bipartisan senators scheduled to come out next week. It offers a path to citizenship.</p><p>Senator Durbin said his ideal comprehensive package will be trimmed during negotiations at the nation&#39;s capital. The fundamentals, however, aren&#39;t up for debate.</p><p>&ldquo;We said to everybody, every senator walking into that room, before you sit down, you have to commit,&rdquo; Durbin said. &ldquo;That when this is over, these people will have the opportunity to become legal and then become citizens, and they say &lsquo;yes.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But in a recent New York Times editorial co-authored with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gutierrez also expressed concern about farm workers and the possibility of a guest-worker program.</p><p>According to news reports, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce&nbsp; and the AFL-CIO have agreed on a work visa program that requires companies to pay immigrant workers fair wages.&nbsp;</p><p>Gutierrez hinted during a small gathering with constituents on Thursday that any proposal written by members in his chamber needs to addresses those issues.</p><p>The gathering took place at Enlace Chicago, a local community organization. Students and their parents shared their stories and asked both Durbin and Gutierrez to keep their concerns in mind.</p><p>Karen Canales is a current senior at Social Justice High School. She said President Obama&rsquo;s recent Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program does not really give her the opportunities she needs to move forward in her career.</p><p>&ldquo;The derefer action doesn&rsquo;t guarantee any FAFSA, any government loans for me to continue my education,&rdquo; Canales said.</p><p>Justina Alfaro is also a senior from Farragut Career Academy. She said eight years ago her dad was deported back to Mexico for not having a driver&rsquo;s license. She said she hopes the new immigration proposals will focus on reuniting families.</p><p>&ldquo; I was 11 years old when I saw that my dad was being arrested,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s been difficult for my family&nbsp; and for me because he was the support of the house.&rdquo;</p><p>Senator Durbin said if an agreement on immigration reform is reached, the bill will go to the Judiciary committee to start an amendment process.&nbsp; Meanwhile, Gutierrez said a House bill could be coming soon after the Senate&rsquo;s proposal.</p></p> Fri, 05 Apr 2013 10:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/legislators-warn-residents-compromises-immigration-reform-106512 Nearly 1 year after stroke, Kirk returns to Senate http://www.wbez.org/news/nearly-1-year-after-stroke-kirk-returns-senate-104683 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP301656839444.jpg" style="height: 402px; width: 620px;" title="Members of Congress line the steps to the Senate door of the Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, as Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., second from right, accompanied by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., right, and Vice President Joe Biden, waves as he walks the steps to mark his return to Congress. Kirk said he often visualized climbing the 45 steps of the U.S. Capitol as a source of inspiration during his months of grueling physical therapy after suffering a major stroke last year. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)" /></div><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; Nearly a year after suffering a debilitating stroke, Sen. Mark Kirk walked the 45 steps up the Capitol on Thursday and reclaimed his seat in the U.S. Senate on the first day of the 113th Congress.</p><p>The Illinois Republican was greeted at the foot of the Capitol steps by an open-armed Vice President Joe Biden. With Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., at his side, and clutching a four-prong cane, Kirk climbed the steps to the Capitol&#39;s entrance to rousing applause from Senate colleagues, the Illinois congressional delegation and Capitol staff.</p><p>Kirk, 53, waved and smiled, pausing several times to greet well-wishers. &quot;Feels great,&quot; he said, walking through the door.</p><p>Moments earlier, Kirk&#39;s return brought most of the Senate, many members of the House where Kirk once served and dozens of congressional aides to the steps of the Capitol. On a frigid, but clear and sunny day, they cheered as Kirk emerged from a sedan to find Biden awaiting him.</p><p>&quot;Welcome back man!&quot; Biden said.</p><p>Kirk smiled broadly, hugging the vice president.</p><p>&quot;During the debate I was rooting for you,&quot; Kirk joked.</p><p>With Biden, Manchin &mdash; Kirk&#39;s closest friend in the Senate &mdash; and his Illinois colleague, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin nearby, Kirk mixed grimaces of concentration with smiles as he walked up the steps. &quot;Go, Mark go,&quot; &#39;&#39;yeah Mark!&quot; and &quot;you&#39;re almost there!&quot; fellow members of Congress cheered. Biden kept a steadying hand on Kirk as he climbed and Manchin lent a supporting arm around his waist. Kirk&#39;s ascent, with several pauses, took about 20 minutes.</p><p>As they neared the Senate, Biden told Kirk he could take all the time he wanted.</p><p>&quot;I made the same walk,&quot; Biden said. He was referring to his own recuperation from brain aneurysms in 1988 and return to the Senate.</p><p>Walking past reporters, Kirk settled into a desk near the back of the chamber. One by one, fellow senators came to wish him well and Kirk chatted with the senator seated next to him, Republican John Hoeven of North Dakota. In a prayer that began Thursday&#39;s Senate session &mdash; the first of the new Congress &mdash; Senate Chaplain Barry Black expressed gratitude for Kirk&#39;s return.</p><p>Kirk&#39;s return followed a year of an intensive, experimental rehabilitation regimen that is often compared to military boot camp because of its intensity. Throughout the process, he updated constituents with video messages about his rehab and his official work. From Chicago, he held video conferences with his staff and worked to keep up to date on Senate business with an eye toward a return this year.</p><p>&quot;I think I am more glad that he&#39;s back than he is,&quot; Manchin joked.</p><p>Durbin said he was thrilled to have Kirk back. &quot;Fantastic,&quot; he said.</p><p>Kirk was all smiles, too.</p><p>&quot;Good to see you,&quot; he said to a group of reporters waiting for him at the top of the Capitol steps.</p><p>Kirk keeps his seats on the Senate appropriations, banking and health-education-labor committees as well as the Special Committee on Aging. His term expires at the end of 2016.</p></p> Thu, 03 Jan 2013 13:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/nearly-1-year-after-stroke-kirk-returns-senate-104683 Hawaii's Inouye, senator and war hero, dies at 88 http://www.wbez.org/news/hawaiis-inouye-senator-and-war-hero-dies-88-104440 <p><p>HONOLULU &mdash; On Dec. 7, 1941, high school senior Daniel Inouye knew he and other Japanese-Americans would face trouble when he saw Japanese dive bombers, torpedo planes and fighters on their way to bomb Pearl Harbor and other Oahu military bases.</p><p>He and other Japanese-Americans had wanted desperately to be accepted, he said, and that meant going to war.</p><p>&quot;I felt that there was a need for us to demonstrate that we&#39;re just as good as anybody else,&quot; Inouye, who eventually went on to serve 50 years as a U.S. senator from Hawaii, once said. &quot;The price was bloody and expensive, but I felt we succeeded.&quot;</p><p>Inouye, 88, died Monday of respiratory complications at a Washington-area hospital. As a senator, he became one of the most influential politicians in the country, playing key roles in congressional investigations of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals. He was the longest serving current senator and by far the most important for his home state of Hawaii.</p><p>&quot;Tonight, our country has lost a true American hero with the passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye,&quot; President Barack Obama said in a statement Monday. &quot;It was his incredible bravery during World War II &mdash; including one heroic effort that cost him his arm but earned him the Medal of Honor &mdash; that made Danny not just a colleague and a mentor, but someone revered by all of us lucky enough to know him.&quot;</p><p>Inouye turned toward life as a politician after his dreams of becoming a surgeon became impossible in World War II. He lost his right arm in a firefight with Germans in Italy in 1945.</p><p>Inouye&#39;s platoon came under fire and Inouye was shot in the stomach as he tried to draw a grenade. He didn&#39;t stop, crawling up a hillside, taking out two machine gun emplacements and grabbing a grenade to throw at a third.</p><p>That&#39;s when an enemy rifle grenade exploded near his right elbow, shot by a German roughly 10 yards away.</p><p>He searched for the grenade, then found it clenched in his right hand, his arm shredded and dangling from his body.</p><p>&quot;The fingers somehow froze over the grenade, so I just had to pry it out,&quot; Inouye said in recounting the moment in the 2004 book &quot;Beyond Glory: Meal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words&quot; by Larry Smith.</p><p>&quot;When I pulled it out, the lever snapped open and I knew I had five seconds, so I flipped it into the German&#39;s face as he was trying to reload,&quot; he said. &quot;And it hit the target.&quot;</p><p>In 2000, when then-President Bill Clinton belatedly presented Inouye and 21 other Asian-American World War II veterans with the Medal of Honor, Clinton recounted that Inouye&#39;s father believed their family owed an unrepayable debt to America.</p><p>&quot;If I may say so, sir, more than a half century later, America owes an unrepayable debt to you and your colleagues,&quot; Clinton said.</p><p>Inouye became a senator in January 1963. As president pro tempore of the Senate, he was third in the line of presidential succession. He broke racial barriers on Capitol Hill as the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress.</p><p>Less than an hour after Inouye&#39;s passing, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Inouye&#39;s death to a stunned chamber. &quot;Our friend Daniel Inouye has died,&quot; Reid said somberly. Shocked members of the Senate stood in the aisles or slumped in their chairs.</p><p>He was elected to the House in 1959, the year Hawaii became a state. He won election to the Senate three years later and served there longer than anyone in American history except Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who died in 2010 after 51 years in the Senate.</p><p>Inouye died after a relatively brief hospitalization. Once a regular smoker, he had a portion of a lung removed in the 1960s after a misdiagnosis for cancer. Just last week, he issued a statement expressing optimism about his recovery.</p><p>Despite his age and illness, Inouye&#39;s death shocked members of the Senate.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m too broken up,&quot; said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who becomes president pro tem of the Senate. Leahy also is poised to take over the Senate Appropriations Committee, which Inouye helmed since 2009.</p><p>&quot;He was the kind of man, in short, that America has always been grateful to have, especially in her darkest hours, men who lead by example and who expect nothing in return,&quot; said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.</p><p>Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie will appoint a replacement, choosing from a list of three candidates selected by the state Democratic Party. &quot;We&#39;re preparing to say goodbye,&quot; Abercrombie said. &quot;Everything else will take place in good time.&quot;</p><p>Abercrombie met with the chairman of the state party on Monday afternoon, and the party leader said afterward that he hoped to have a replacement in office by the first day of the January session.</p><p>Whomever Abercrombie appoints would serve until a special election in 2014.</p><p>Inouye was handily re-elected to a ninth term in 2010 with 75 percent of the vote.</p><p>His last utterance, his office said, was &quot;Aloha.&quot;</p><p>Inouye spent most of his Senate career attending to Hawaii. At the height of his power, Inouye routinely secured tens of millions of dollars annually for the state&#39;s roads, schools, national lands and military bases.</p><p>Although tremendously popular in his home state, Inouye actively avoided the national spotlight until he was thrust into it. He was the keynote speaker at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and later reluctantly joined the Senate&#39;s select committee on the Watergate scandal. The panel&#39;s investigation led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.</p><p>Inouye also served as chairman of the committee that investigated the Iran-Contra arms and money affair, which rocked Ronald Reagan&#39;s presidency.</p><p>A quiet but powerful lawmaker, Inouye ran for Senate majority leader several times without success. He gained power as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee before Republicans took control of the Senate in 1994.</p><p>When the Democrats regained control in the 2006 elections, Inouye became chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. He left that post two years later to become chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.</p><p>Inouye also chaired the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for many years. He was made an honorary member of the Navajo nation and given the name &quot;The Leader Who Has Returned With a Plan.&quot;</p><p>He is the last remaining member of the Senate to have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.</p><p>Inouye was serving as Hawaii&#39;s first congressman in 1962, when he ran for the Senate and won 70 percent of the vote.</p><p>In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson urged Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who had won the Democratic nomination for president, to select Inouye as his running mate. Johnson told Humphrey that Inouye&#39;s World War II injuries would silence Humphrey&#39;s critics on the Vietnam War.</p><p>&quot;He answers Vietnam with that empty sleeve. He answers your problems with (Republican presidential candidate Richard) Nixon with that empty sleeve,&quot; Johnson said.</p><p>But Inouye was not interested.</p><p>&quot;He was content in his position as a U.S. senator representing Hawaii,&quot; Jennifer Sabas, Inouye&#39;s Hawaii chief of staff, said in 2008.</p><p>Inouye joined the Watergate proceedings at the strong urging of Senate Democratic leader Mike Mansfield. The panel&#39;s investigation of the role of the Nixon White House in covering up a burglary at Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate in June 1972 ultimately prompted the House to initiate impeachment proceedings against Nixon, who resigned before the issue reached a vote in the House.</p><p>In one of the most memorable exchanges of the Watergate proceedings, an attorney for two of Nixon&#39;s closest advisers, John Ehrlichman and Bob Haldeman, referred to Inouye as a &quot;little Jap.&quot;</p><p>The attorney, John J. Wilson, later apologized. Inouye accepted the apology, noting that the slur came after he had muttered &quot;what a liar&quot; into a microphone that he thought had been turned off following Ehrlichman&#39;s testimony.</p><p>Inouye achieved celebrity status when he served as chairman of the congressional panel investigating the Iran-Contra affair in 1987. That committee held lengthy hearings into allegations that top Reagan administration officials had facilitated the sale of weapons to Iran, in violation of a congressional arms embargo, in hopes of winning the release of American hostages in Iran and to raise money to help support anti-communist fighters in Nicaragua.</p><p>&quot;This was not a happy chore, but it had to be done,&quot; Inouye said of the hearings.</p><p>The panel sharply criticized Reagan for what it considered laxity in handling his duties as president. &quot;We were fair,&quot; Inouye said. &quot;Not because we wanted to be fair but because we had to be fair.&quot;</p><p>Inouye was born Sept. 7, 1924, to immigrant parents in Honolulu. After the Pearl Harbor bombings changed the course of his life, he volunteered for the Army at 18 and was assigned to the famed Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The team earned the nickname &quot;Go For Broke.&quot; Inouye rose to the rank of captain and earned the Distinguished Service Cross and Bronze Star.</p><p>His military unit became the most highly decorated ever for its size and length of service.</p><p>Unlike the families of many of his comrades in arms, Inouye&#39;s wasn&#39;t subjected to the trauma and indignity of being sent by the U.S. government during the war to internment camps for Japanese Americans.</p><p>&quot;It was the ultimate of patriotism,&quot; Inouye said at a 442nd reunion. &quot;These men, who came from behind barbed wire internment camps where the Japanese-Americans were held, to volunteer to fight and give their lives. ... We knew we were expendable.&quot;</p><p>Inouye spent the next 20 months after losing his right arm in military hospitals. During his convalescence, Inouye met Bob Dole, the future majority leader of the Senate and 1996 Republican presidential candidate, who also was recovering from severe war injuries. The two later served together in the Senate for decades.</p><p>&quot;With Sen. Inouye, what you saw is what you got and what you got was just a wonderful human being that served his country after the ill-treatment of the Japanese, lost an arm in the process,&quot; Dole said Monday. &quot;He was the best bridge player on our floor. He did it all with one arm.&quot;</p><p>Despite his military service and honors, Inouye returned to an often-hostile America. On his way home from the war, he often recounted, he entered a San Francisco barbershop only to be told, &quot;We don&#39;t cut Jap hair.&quot;</p><p>He returned to Hawaii and received a bachelor&#39;s degree in government and economics from the University of Hawaii in 1950. He graduated from George Washington University&#39;s law school in 1952.</p><p>Inouye proposed to Margaret Shinobu Awamura on their second date, and they married in 1949. Their only child, Daniel Jr., was born in 1964. When his wife died in 2006, Inouye said, &quot;It was a most special blessing to have had Maggie in my life for 58 years.&quot;</p><p>He remarried in 2008, to Irene Hirano, a Los Angeles community leader.</p></p> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 08:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/hawaiis-inouye-senator-and-war-hero-dies-88-104440 Gov. Quinn vows to pursue assault weapons ban http://www.wbez.org/news/gov-quinn-vows-pursue-assault-weapons-ban-104081 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/quinn_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill.&nbsp; &mdash; An aide says Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will &quot;vigorously pursue&quot; a ban on assault weapons even though the Senate rebuffed his attempt on Wednesday.</p><p>The Senate voted 49-4 Wednesday to override Quinn&#39;s rewritten legislation to prohibit the sale or possession of semi-automatic rifles, high-capacity magazines and .50-caliber guns.</p><p>Spokeswoman Brooke Anderson says the Democratic governor will continue seeking a statewide assault-weapons ban to enhance public safety. She would not elaborate on his strategy.</p><p>Senators say Quinn overstepped his authority in August by changing legislation on mail-order ammunition. He acted after a mass shooting at a suburban Denver movie theater.</p><p>If the House also votes to override, the original legislation allowing Illinois gun owners to purchase ammunition by mail from in-state dealers becomes law.</p></p> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 14:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/gov-quinn-vows-pursue-assault-weapons-ban-104081 U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk to return to Congress in January http://www.wbez.org/news/us-sen-mark-kirk-return-congress-january-103718 <p><p>U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is setting his priorities for his return to Washington.</p><p>Kirk hasn&#39;t been back to the U.S. Senate since suffering a stroke earlier this year, but <a href="http://bit.ly/XjhNCo">WLS TV&nbsp;reports</a> he&#39;s planning to return in January.</p><p>Kirk tells WLS that he will make a ban on dumping sewage in the Great Lakes his priority for this Congress.</p><p>The 53-year-old Republican discussed his plans when he stopped at a polling place in the Chicago suburb of Highwood to cast his ballot Tuesday. He used a cane as he walked to the polls and greeted well-wishers.</p><p>Kirk&#39;s says he&#39;s feeling good after he climbed 37 floors of the Willis Tower on Sunday for a Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago fundraiser. He admits he took a long nap after the event.</p></p> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 09:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/us-sen-mark-kirk-return-congress-january-103718