WBEZ | U.S. Senate http://www.wbez.org/tags/us-senate-0 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Former Sen. Bill Bradley says 'We Can All Do Better' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/former-sen-bill-bradley-says-we-can-all-do-better-99126 <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/RS5562_P1040410-scr.JPG" style="width: 628px; height: 353px;" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)"></div><p>Perhaps if former small forward Bill Bradley had been able to lace up his old sneakers last week, his beloved New York Knicks might have been able to withstand the Heat in the first round of NBA playoffs. The ghost of Bradley, it seems, would be a welcome haunt in many of his former arenas: from Madison Square Garden to the floor of the U.S. Senate.</p><p>After a decade-long, Hall of Fame career in the NBA, Bradley moved onto his next competitive sport: politics. He served in the U.S. Senate for nearly twenty years, representing the state of New Jersey. In 2000, he sought the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. But after 15 months of campaigning, Bradley ultimately conceded and offered his support to Vice President Al Gore at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. He said that a Democratic president and a Democratic conscience were paramount to the success of America.</p><p>“I believe that America is a great country, but I also believe it can be a greater country. And so do many other Americans. There's a great wave beginning in this country, I saw it and felt it practically every day for over a year. And when it breaks, it will carry the trappings of political privilege with it. It will vanquish the insidious bond between big money and political decisions. It will break the grip of political lies on our imagination. It will put the people back in politics and usher in a new day full of hope and honesty, full of humanity and caring. A day that Americans yearn for, a day that Democratic leadership can help bring about. A day that will come, let us have the courage to make that day come... now,” Bradley said during his <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/election2000/demconvention/bradley.html" target="_blank">convention speech</a>.</p><p>Of course, Gore—and the Democrats—lost the election for the White House. And the United States’ political, social and economic landscapes look much different than they did in 2000. But, Bradley argues, government is not the problem: we all must do better.</p><p>In his newest book, <a href="http://www.billbradley.com/" target="_blank"><em>We Can All Do Better</em></a>, Sen. Bradley delivers a searing critique of the state of the nation—in terms of the role of money in politics, foreign policy, economics and diminished potential. He offers prescriptions for job creation, deficit reduction, immigration and education.</p><p>Sen. Bradley joined Steve Edwards on Monday’s <em>Afternoon Shift</em> to share his thoughts on how we all, can do, better.</p></p> Mon, 14 May 2012 14:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/former-sen-bill-bradley-says-we-can-all-do-better-99126 Durbin criticizes Republicans for jobs bill halt http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-criticizes-republicans-jobs-bill-halt-93382 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100812_ttruitt_1559876_U.S..JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Some Illinois lawmakers are weighing in on the fight over President Barack Obama's jobs bill.</p><p>Last week, a piece of the bill that would have funneled millions to state and local governments to help them avoid teacher and firefighter layoffs did not get the support it needed to pass the U.S. Senate. The chamber split 50-50 on the vote, failing to receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.</p><p>Democratic Senator Dick Durbin criticized Republicans for not coming up with a jobs solution of their own.</p><p>"If they're just going to say no in the hopes that they can defeat Barack Obama, that's a heavy price for 14 million unemployed Americans to pay," said Durbin.</p><p>Many Republicans have criticized the president for not seeking a compromise. Three Democrats sided with Republicans in voting down the measure.</p></p> Mon, 24 Oct 2011 10:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-criticizes-republicans-jobs-bill-halt-93382 Sen. Durbin on 'Gang of Six' and the debt challenges of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-30/sen-durbin-gang-six-and-debt-challenges-social-security-medicare-and-med <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-30/84538307.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>During a press conference Wednesday, President Barack Obama reminded Congress, and the country, that it was time to “seize this moment” and to “seize it soon.” This spring, the Treasury Department warned that if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling by August 2<sup>nd</sup>, the United States could default on its debt. The so-called “Gang of Six” – a bipartisan group of Senators –convened to concoct a comprehensive plan for deficit reduction.</p><p>The group is now down a man but talks continued in an effort to meet a self-imposed July 1 deadline. Sen. Dick Durbin emerged as a leader of the pack early on. The senior senator from Illinois joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight’s</em> Alison Cuddy Thursday to discuss the group’s progress.</p><p>Durbin has not been coy about the import of the group’s task. He has communicated that everything is on the table during negotiations—including entitlements. Cuddy began by asking the senator what changes he would accept on programs like Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.</p><p>The senator recognized that Social Security is only solvent for about 25 years before it “falls off the edge of the table.” But many Americans were forced to reshape their retirement plans in the last few years—the stock market tumbled, savings shrunk and many lost private pension plans as companies filed for bankruptcy—making Social Security, Durbin argued, more important than ever.</p><p>“Turns out, the only solid thing left, is Social Security and people need to count on it,” Durbin said.</p><p>He would like to work on a plan that buys the program 75 years of solvency—and he said he thought it might be possible if Congress revisits it every 10 years. Ensuring 75-year solvency, he said, will give young people and retirees peace of mind that their Social Security will be there when they’re ready to claim it.</p><p>But the hurdles facing Medicare and Medicaid are a separate ballgame, according to Durbin.</p><p>“If the challenges of Social Security can be quantified in mathematical terms, it’s simple math,” Durbin said. “When you get into Medicare, you’re in advanced calculus.”</p><p>The senator pointed to Medicare’s many moving parts and levers with varying degrees of effectiveness. But to be serious about the deficit of the United States of America, Durbin said, a basic concession must be made—health care costs, which continue to rise faster than inflation, must be confronted. Durbin also pointed to the country’s changing demographics—9,000 Americans reach the age of 65 every day. Those numbers, he argued, must be part of the equation.</p><p>In response to the premise, Cuddy asked Durbin if it was a fair trade to cut benefits under Medicaid to satiate Republicans’ appetite for reduced spending in exchange for tax concessions from the GOP.</p><p>“The idea of cutting benefits under Medicaid at this point, in order to get the wealthiest Americans to pay more in taxes, is an awful bargain,” Durbin said.</p><p>Durbin added that well-off Americans should be willing to help; to sacrifice some in order to avoid serious cuts to Medicaid and Medicare. Medicaid, he emphasized, represents not only care for aging parents, grandparents and the disabled, but also the healthcare of one-third of the children in America.</p><p>Protecting their interests is part of the reason Durbin joined the “Gang of Six” in the first place; why, he said, a person from the left side of the spectrum decided to sit with “flinty-eyed conservatives.”</p><p>At the gang’s initial meeting, Durbin stated his purpose to the group: “I got two things I want to preserve: The safety net in America and the progressivity of our tax code so that middle-income families who are falling behind have a tax code that gives them a fighting chance,” he recounted.</p><p>He told Cuddy that from his vantage point, the current conversation does not address those priorities—many Americans remain vulnerable to the deficit shockwave in the long-term. And their well-being, he said, cannot be sacrificed.</p><p>But the reality of politics in Washington, Durbin resigned, is that Republicans control the House of Representatives with a commanding majority. The Democrats have a nominal control of the U.S. Senate with 53 votes—but to meet the required 60, a degree of Republican support is needed.</p><p>Nonetheless, Durbin said there is general agreement among Senate Democrats that the party should ask for more in terms of tax revenue.</p><p>“We want to close down some of the rotten subsidies that are going on—whether they’re for oil companies, or thoroughbred horses, or corporate jets, or ways for companies to move jobs overseas with the help of the tax code—it’s time to put an end to that stuff,” Durbin said.</p><p>But he fears that even if the August 2 deadline is avoided, and a short-term, bipartisan deficit plan is adopted, another threat still looms.</p><p>“We still face the real situation that 30 bond traders in New York City can decide that the future of the American economy is in doubt and start raising questions about interest rates; that could happen,” Durbin warned.</p></p> Thu, 30 Jun 2011 13:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-30/sen-durbin-gang-six-and-debt-challenges-social-security-medicare-and-med Supreme Court denies Burris' appeal http://www.wbez.org/story/supreme-court-denies-burris-appeal-87465 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100803_ssmith_150629_Illi_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON -- Months after Illinois' new senator took office, the Supreme Court says it will not consider overturning the election of President Barack Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate.</p><p>The high court on Monday turned away an appeal from former Illinois Sen. Roland Burris, who was appointed to the seat but did not get chance to run for a full term. The justices also refused to hear an appeal from state officials who objected to a court order to hold a special election as well as a regular election for Obama's old seat.</p><p>The seat was won by Republican Senator Mark Kirk.</p></p> Mon, 06 Jun 2011 15:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/supreme-court-denies-burris-appeal-87465 U.S. Intelligence Chief Alarms Senators By Calling China, Russia 'Threats' http://www.wbez.org/story/asia/2011-03-10/us-intelligence-chief-alarms-senators-calling-china-russia-threats-83525 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//james-clapper.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Director of National Intelligence James Clapper caused a stir Thursday during an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee when he described China and Russia as "mortal threats" to the U.S.</p><p>His remarks, coming in response to a question from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), caused concern among senators of both parties. After all, the U.S. has mainly friendly relations with both China and Russia.</p><p>Iran and North Korea? Not so much. So senators were taken aback, to say the least, that those two members of what used to be called the "axis of evil" got a pass.</p><p>The senators were so concerned that Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chair of the committee helped Clapper "revise and extend" his remarks, as they like to say in Congress.</p><p></p><p>Meanwhile, the "mortal threat" description, as well as Clapper's estimation that Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi was likely to fend off attempts to oust him, had Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) calling for Clapper's resignation or, if that wasn't forthcoming, President Obama to fire him.</p><p>Here's the "mortal threat" exchange:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>MANCHIN: First of all, Director Clapper, I'd just ask — the first<br />question would be: In your estimation, which is the greatest threat<br />we have in the world against the United States of America — whether it be a build up of their army or their defenses or their economic threat they pose or a combination of both?</p><p>MR. CLAPPER: Are you speaking of a nation state, sir?</p><p>SEN. MANCHIN: Yes.</p><p>MR. CLAPPER: I'm sorry?</p><p>SEN. MANCHIN: Yes, a country.</p><p>GEN. CLAPPER: Well, a country — well, from strictly — well.<br />Certainly the Russians have a — you know, still have a very<br />formidable nuclear arsenal, even with — which does pose, you know,<br />potentially a mortal threat to us. I don't think they have the intent<br />to do that.</p><p>Certainly China is growing in its military capabilities. It has<br />a full array of — whether conventional or strategic forces that they<br />are building, so they too pose, potentially, from a capability<br />standpoint, a threat to us, as — a mortal threat. The issue, though,<br />is — which, you know, we always have trouble gauging, is intent<br />versus — versus the capability.</p><p><br /> Having said all that, my greatest concern, though, does not lie<br />with a nation-state posing a threat to us as much as it is in the area<br />of terrorism, as I indicated in my opening statement.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>When he had the opportunity a few minutes later, Levin moved in to help try to set things right.</p><p><blockquote></p><p>LEVIN: Senator Manchin asked a question; I was frankly kind of surprised by your answer, Director Clapper. He asked a very direct question, who represents the greatest threat to the United States. And your first answer was Russia, and then you kind of clarified it in terms of saying, well, that's in terms of capability, but that — they don't have any intent to use that capability. But I still was kind of<br />surprised by your answer. Then the next one was China, who also would have the capability, I guess, but without the intent.</p><p>By that — you didn't mention Iran or North Korea, which would<br />have been the first two countries that I would have thought of in<br />response to that question. I was really kind of taken aback, almost,<br />by your answer. I thought it was a very — kind of a very clear<br />question.</p><p>GEN. CLAPPER: I think — as I interpreted the question, it is,<br />you know, which country or countries would represent a mortal threat to the United States.</p><p>SEN. LEVIN: Could have the potential of being a mortal --</p><p>GEN. CLAPPER: Yes. And so I — the two that come to mind are --<br />because of their capabilities, are Russia and — and China.</p><p>SEN. LEVIN: Now, if we were sitting --</p><p>GEN. CLAPPER: Iran and North Korea are, you know, of great<br />concern. I don't know that at this point in time they pose a direct<br />mortal threat to the continental United States.</p><p>SEN. LEVIN: Does Russia or China, at this time, represent a<br />direct mortal threat to the United States?</p><p>GEN. CLAPPER: Well, they have the capability, because of their<br />strategic nuclear weapons.</p><p>SEN. LEVIN: Right.</p><p>GEN. CLAPPER: I don't think --</p><p>SEN. LEVIN: By that measure, we --</p><p>GEN. CLAPPER: The intent is low, but they certainly have the<br />capability.</p><p>SEN. LEVIN: By that measure, we represent a direct mortal threat<br />to both of them, right? We have the capability of an attack.</p><p>GEN. CLAPPER: Well, sir — we do.</p><p>SEN. LEVIN: So you would say, the director of — you're national<br />intelligence, that you wouldn't mind a headline out there in Russia<br />and China saying the United States represents a direct mortal threat<br />to Russia or China?</p><p>GEN. CLAPPER: (Off mic) — each of these countries certainly<br />have the capability in our strategic arsenals.</p><p>SEN. LEVIN: And vice versa.</p><p>GEN. CLAPPER: Yes, sir.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>Even after Levin tried to provide an escape route, Clapper refused to use it. A few minutes later, he sad that because of the New START treaty with the Russians, he would rate them a lower threat than China.</p><p>Then there was his answer to the senators' Libya question which call can be boiled down to this response he gave to Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT):</p><p><blockquote></p><p>CLAPPER: So, I just think from a standpoint of attrition --</p><p>SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.</p><p>GEN. CLAPPER: — that over time, I mean — this is kind of a<br />stalemate back and forth, but I think over the longer term that the<br />regime will prevail.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>That was problematic since the Obama Administration and many of its Western allies have made clear they want Gadhafi to leave.</p><p>White House aides spent part of the afternoon doing damage control. Tom Donilon, President Obama's national security adviser said it wasn't that Clapper was wrong. It was just that he was assessing the Libya situation in a "static" way and not quite giving enough weight to the "dynamic" aspect of the conflict, as the rebels make gains in some places and lose ground in others.</p><p>When Jake Tapper of ABC News asked Donilon if the president was "happy" with an intelligence director who didn't have the entire dynamic picture in mind, Donilon said:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>MR. DONILON: On the first question, the President is very happy with the performance of General Clapper and we work together every single day. I was asked a question about the statement, and I think my judgment on the statement is a static analysis and that you need to take into account the dynamics.</p><p>On working with the opposition as part of the dynamics analysis, what I said is that it doesn't take into account, kind of looking to the future in the increasing work that the international community is doing with the opposition, beginning now with political support, humanitarian support, and deepening those conversations. I think that's the best answer for that.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>Sen. Graham, the South Carolina Republican, wasn't buying it.</p><p>An excerpt from <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51061.html#ixzz1GF4574BT">Politico.com</a>:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Clapper should resign or be fired from his job, and wanted President Barack Obama to "repudiate" statements made by Clapper in recent months.</p><p>"I don't have confidence that this gentleman understands what his job is all about and how his words affect the world as it is," the South Carolina Republican told Fox News on Thursday.</p><p>Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) did not join Graham in calling for Clapper's ouster, but conceded that his testimony was problematic. "I'm not going to comment [on resignation] right now. On the question of the two nations with the greatest intent to harm ours, I do not believe they are China or Russia, so I do not understand why that was put out there. So, that's a problem," Feinstein said. Feinstein is the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.</p><p></blockquote> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1299802926?&gn=U.S.+Intelligence+Chief+Alarms+Senators+By+Calling+China%2C+Russia+%27Threats%27&ev=event2&ch=129828651&h1=Sen.+Lindsey+Graham,Senate+Armed+Services+Committee,Director+National+Intelligence,James+Clapper,National+Security,U.S.+Senate,White+House,Congress,It%27s+All+Politics,Asia,Europe,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=134433195&c7=1122&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1122&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110310&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=134436761,134436759,134436756,132260128,131665569,131036279,130357600,130215202,129828651&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Thu, 10 Mar 2011 17:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/asia/2011-03-10/us-intelligence-chief-alarms-senators-calling-china-russia-threats-83525 Indiana's Lugar to seek another term in Senate http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana/indianas-lugar-seek-another-term-senate <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Richard Lugar_Getty_Win McNamee.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana's senior senator, Richard Lugar (R-IN), plans to seek a re-election in 2012.</p><p>Lugar spokesman Mark Helmke said Tuesday that Lugar plans to run a vigorous campaign and is committed to winning a seventh term representing Indiana in the Senate.</p><p>That effort has already begun. Lugar plans to return to Indiana on Friday for a major fundraiser in Carmel, outside of Indianapolis. Helmke says the six-term senator has already raised more than $320,000.</p><p>Lugar has carved out a bipartisan reputation during his years in Washington, working with Democrats including then-Senator Barack Obama on a variety of issues, particularly foreign policy initiatives. That could make him vulnerable to a potential challenge from a Tea Party challenger on the right.</p><p>Lugar sought the Republican nomination for President in 1996 and most recently has served as the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 18 Jan 2011 21:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana/indianas-lugar-seek-another-term-senate Illinois' congressional delegation reacts to weekend shootings http://www.wbez.org/story/arizona/illinois-congressional-delegation-reacts-weekend-shootings <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Mark Kirk.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some members of Illinois' delegation to Congress are calling for a toned-down political rhetoric after the mass shootings in Arizona over the weekend.<br /><br />Local congressmen are expressing sadness and outrage at the weekend shooting in Arizona that left at least six people dead and wounded 14 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.<br /><br />First-term Republican Congressman Robert Dold of Illinois said the &quot;deplorable actions of one&quot; won't affect the ability of U.S. representatives to do their jobs.</p><p><br />Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican, says many members of Congress are on edge because of the shooting.<br /><br />&quot;We certainly will work with the police force of each town that we're in,&quot; Kirk said. &quot;Alert them to the meeting, prepare them in advance just in case there's any temptation by a local wacko to do a copycat kind of thing.&quot;<br /><br />Kirk said he hopes partisan rhetoric in national politics is toned down.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Evanston, said she agrees. Schakowsky added it's time to look at the different gun laws around the country.<br /><br />&quot;I think that the easy accessibility to all kinds of people who shouldn't have guns is something that we need to discuss,&quot; she said.<br /><br />Still, both Schakowsky and Kirk said they won't change their visibility to constituents.</p><p><br />Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. said there are troubled and desperate people watching television and listening to the radio and reacting to heated political rhetoric. &quot;And they're becoming very and increasingly anxious to do something about 'taking their government back,'&quot; Jackson said. &quot;This is our government. This government belongs to all of us. Some of this rhetoric, I believe, is contributing to an anxiety in this country that's unnecessary.&quot;<br /><br />The Senate's number-two Democrat, Illinois' Dick Durbin, told CNN that toxic rhetoric can lead unstable individuals to believe violence is an acceptable response.</p><p>Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush said he's &quot;very concerned&quot; about his own safety and the safety of other representatives following the attack.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />The Chicago Democrat told The Associated Press the climate for political leaders is bad, particularly for those who've supported President Barack Obama.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />Giffords has described herself as a former Republican and current moderate centrist Democrat.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />Rush said he's told those around him to be more vigilant, but said he doesn't plan to scale back on any public appearances.</p><p><em>The Associated Press contributed to this story.</em><br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Sun, 09 Jan 2011 19:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/arizona/illinois-congressional-delegation-reacts-weekend-shootings Durbin, Kirk weigh in on filibuster reform http://www.wbez.org/story/filibuster-reform/durbin-kirk-weigh-filibuster-reform <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Kirk.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says he supports a proposal by Senate Democrats that would set new limits on filibusters. Durbin says rules allowing senators to simply raise an objection to start a filibuster need to change.</p> <div>&nbsp;&ldquo;If you file a filibuster in the Senate, park yourself at your desk,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If it&rsquo;s a matter of principle that the Senate stop working for 30 hours, (then) spend 30 hours at your desk and explain that to the American people.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The current rule allows any senator to anonymously file an objection. Lawmakers then need 60 votes to end the debate and put a bill to vote. Illinois junior Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican, says he doesn't want the minority voice to be compromised by changes to the procedure.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&ldquo;The essence of Senate is to protect the minority,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If you drive over minority rights you may live to highly regret that decision.&rdquo; Democrats say Republicans have been abusing Senate rules to excessively filibuster and block key pieces of legislation.</div></p> Tue, 04 Jan 2011 21:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/filibuster-reform/durbin-kirk-weigh-filibuster-reform Senate votes to repeal DADT; DREAM Act falls short http://www.wbez.org/story/dick-durbin/repeal-dadt-moves-forward-dream-act-falls-short <p><p><em>Updated at: 10:30 a.m. on 12/19/2010</em></p><p>The Senate passed legislation Saturday that would overturn the military's 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops - a policy known as &quot;don't ask, don't tell.&quot;<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />The final vote of 65-31 moves the bill to President Barack Obama, who says he'll sign it into law.</p><p>Both of Illinois' U.S. Senators, Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk, voted in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.</p><p>In a statement, Kirk said, &quot;I very carefully read the Joint Chiefs of Staff report and met at length with Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead. Following their exhaustive and considered military judgment, I&nbsp;support the Joint Chief's recommendation to implement the repeal of the current policy once the battle effectiveness of the forces is certified and proper preparations are complete.&quot;<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />Republicans had blocked previous votes on the bill on procedural grounds. But with a major tax bill finished and a Pentagon study released in favor of repealing the ban, eight Republicans joined 55 Democrats and two independents in supporting the bill.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to grant hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children a chance to gain legal status if they enroll in college or join the military.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />Sponsors of what they call the DREAM Act needed 60 Senate votes for it, but fell five short. The House passed the bill last week.<br /><br />It was a last-ditch effort to enact it before it Republicans take control of the House from Democrats in January.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />Immigrant advocates viewed the measure as a step toward providing a path to legal status for up to 12 million illegal immigrants by focusing on the most sympathetic among them first. Critics called it a back-door grant of amnesty that would encourage more illegal immigration.</p><p>Kirk joined a Republican filibuster to block the DREAM Act, legislation which is strongly supported by Durbin, the bill's chief proponent.</p></p> Sat, 18 Dec 2010 17:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/dick-durbin/repeal-dadt-moves-forward-dream-act-falls-short Durbin: tax cut extensions for the wealthy are "just plain wrong" http://www.wbez.org/story/bush-era-tax-cuts/durbin-tax-cut-extensions-wealthy-are-just-plain-wrong <p><p>The U.S. Senate is expected to take a procedural vote today on a deal to extend Bush-era tax cuts. The procedural vote would pave the way for a final vote on the package, possibly this week.<br /><br />Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said the inclusion of tax cut extensions for the wealthy and the more generous estate tax provisions in the deal are &quot;just plain wrong.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;It doesn't help the economy,&quot; Durbin said. &quot;It adds to the deficit, and it basically says the people who are the most well-off in America don't have to share any kind of sacrifice in these tough times. But I'm a realist, too, and I know that in order to put this package together the administration had to make concessions to the Republicans.&quot;<br /><br />A spokesman for Republican Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk said the Senator isn't available to speak today. Durbin said he expects the tax cut extensions to receive the necessary 60 votes required to move forward.</p></p> Mon, 13 Dec 2010 19:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/bush-era-tax-cuts/durbin-tax-cut-extensions-wealthy-are-just-plain-wrong