WBEZ | Senator Mark Kirk http://www.wbez.org/tags/senator-mark-kirk Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Kirk releases first video on policy since his stroke http://www.wbez.org/news/kirk-releases-first-video-policy-his-stroke-102500 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/kirk_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/9okBKA76Z1k" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9okBKA76Z1k">released a video</a> about the recent downgrade of the state&rsquo;s credit rating.&nbsp;It&rsquo;s the first video the Republican senator has released that isn&rsquo;t about his recovery from the stroke he suffered earlier this year.</p><p>Kirk&rsquo;s office has put on the internet produced videos of the senator&rsquo;s recovery showing him walking on a treadmill or talking with doctors.</p><p>His most recent video, however, had a much different tone.</p><p>&quot;The issue of pension reform continues to be a dark cloud over Springfield,&quot; a television news broadcaster is heard saying on the video with ominous music playing in the background.</p><p>The intensely grim minute-and-a-half-long video takes issue with Illinois&rsquo; recent credit downgrade, since legislators haven&rsquo;t voted on the state&rsquo;s vastly unfunded pension obligation.</p><p>At the end of the video, Kirk appears in an office and talks to the camera.</p><p>&quot;Everyone inside the borders of Illinois is disadvantaged by these higher interest costs because of poor debt management by our state,&quot; he said.</p><p>Meantime,&nbsp;Kirk&rsquo;s fellow Illinois U.S. Senator, Democrat Dick Durbin, said at an unrelated news conference Tuesday that he talks regularly with Kirk, but hasn&#39;t seen him in person. Durbin said Kirk is champing at the bit to get back to the Senate.</p><p>Kirk has not appeared in public since his stroke in January.</p></p> Tue, 18 Sep 2012 14:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/kirk-releases-first-video-policy-his-stroke-102500 New video shows Sen. Kirk's recovery http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/new-video-shows-sen-kirks-recovery-98947 <p><p>A new video of Ill. U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has been released. It's first since the Republican suffered a stroke in January.</p><p>The three minute video shows the Republican senator sitting up in an arm chair explaining his recovery process and thanking supporters.</p><p>"I want to thank everyone especially for the patience they have given me to recover from a big stroke," Kirk said in the video. "I want to thank the people of Illinois for (giving) me the honor to represent them in the United States Senate. I can't wait to go back to work."</p><p>Kirk is seen going through different stages of his rehabilitation program. In one scene the senator is wearing a harness and is hooked up to a machine as he walks on a treadmill. In another he walks with a cane as a physical therapist assists him.</p><p>In the video, the senator has visible limited mobility to the left side of his body, but appears mentally sharp as doctors had previously reported.</p><p>Kirk suffered a stroke in January. He was released from the rehabilitation center last week, and he's continuing his recovery as an outpatient. There are no details yet on when Kirk will be back at work.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/WpBoYmKX-QQ" width="560"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 08 May 2012 15:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/new-video-shows-sen-kirks-recovery-98947 Rep. Hultgren: Kirk's recovery going well http://www.wbez.org/news/rep-hultgren-kirks-recovery-going-well-98143 <p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is still recovering after suffering a stroke in January, but information about how he's doing is hard to come by.<br><br>Reporters gathered in Sen. Kirk's downtown Chicago office Wednesday for a news conference on the state's debt crisis. But it wasn't Kirk, or even a member of his staff, who was there - it was Rep. Randy Hultgren.<br><br>Hultgren said he hasn't spoken to Kirk directly, but he has heard positive things about his recovery.<br><br>"Everything I hear is very good, it's going to be a long process, but I know he's a fighter," he said. "We need him back as quickly as possible but we also need him to do everything he needs to do to be back to full health.<br><br>When asked if there was anyone on Kirk's staff that has actually spoken to or seen the Senator, Hultgren replied:<br><br>"Okay. We'll put that request in, any other questions while we're waiting? I don't have anybody in the room to be able to respond to that."</p><p>Hultgren said he wasn't sure when the senator would be back to work.<br><br>Kirk's staff later said updates on the senator's condition can only come from his doctors at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The RIC referred to a progress report from February 24th, a statement that reads, "Senator Kirk is fully engaged in his rehabilitation program and making improvements in walking and other activities."</p></p> Wed, 11 Apr 2012 13:31:28 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rep-hultgren-kirks-recovery-going-well-98143 Mark Kirk transferred out of Northwestern http://www.wbez.org/story/mark-kirk-transferred-out-northwestern-96294 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-06/Mark Kirk_Bill Healy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk has been transferred out of Northwestern Memorial Hospital to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Kirk suffered a stroke nearly three weeks ago and has undergone two surgeries since then. Earlier this week, doctors reattached a portion of Kirk's skull that had been removed to help with the swelling of his brain.</p><p>According to a statement from RIC, Kirk will now be under the care of Dr. Richard Harvey.</p><p>In a statement, Harvey said, “RIC’s team of experts will spend the next few days assessing Senator Kirk’s condition and developing a comprehensive,&nbsp;targeted rehabilitation program tailored to achieve the goals that will be established by Senator Kirk and his family.&nbsp; The Senator has several pre-stroke factors in his favor that our research and experience demonstrate will foster a better recovery, including his relative youth, good general health and fitness, strong personal motivation, and high intelligence.”</p></p> Fri, 10 Feb 2012 21:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/mark-kirk-transferred-out-northwestern-96294 Kirk returns from Libya, says no more U.S. aid is needed http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-returns-libya-says-no-more-us-aid-needed-92627 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-29/kirk libya_ap_Abdel Magid al-Fergany.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk said the United States doesn't need to give any more aid to Libya.</p><p>Speaking to reporters by phone Thursday on his way back from Tripoli, the Illinois Republican Kirk said the country has enough money to support itself - at least $100 billion seized by the international community from former leader Moammar Gadhafi.</p><p>"Libya does not need foreign assistance funding from the United States," said Kirk. "I had my worries that those funds were not being released on time, but I was reassured by key figures - the chairman, the prime minister, and the finance minister - that they have adequate resources for their capacity right now."</p><p>The Senator also sent "kudos" to President Barack Obama, for handling of the situation.</p><p>"This was a success by President Obama and his team," said Kirk. "While any military conflict has ups or downs or things you might have done differently, clearly, because of the decisions made, and especially with our British and French allies that carried a heavy load of tactical airpower, we have all the makings of a very strong U.S. ally now in Libya."</p><p>Kirk outlined a list of what he hopes to see happen in Libya in the coming months: early elections, the formation of a strong national army, prompt medical assistance to the 60,000 wounded and an end to the "no-fly zone" in the major cities of Benghazi and Tripoli, to encourage civil aviation. He said he hopes fighting would be resolved by the end of October, but that the "age of Gadhafi has definitely ended."</p><p>The senator was in Libya on a trip with three of his GOP colleagues, including Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain. He returns to the U.S. Friday morning.</p></p> Thu, 29 Sep 2011 18:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-returns-libya-says-no-more-us-aid-needed-92627 Lipinski optimistic about unity over Obama's jobs plan http://www.wbez.org/story/congressman-optimistic-about-unity-over-obama-jobs-plan-91881 <p><p>Members of Congress are spending their day waiting for President Barack Obama's newly announced jobs bill to reach their desks.</p><p>The president said he wants lawmakers to pass the bill immediately. But Illinois U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, who represents parts of Chicago and the western suburbs, said he doubts the $447 billion bill will get through the Republican-dominated House intact, though he's still optimistic about the proposal.</p><p>"I saw a change last week in Washington," said Lipinski. "A great change from July to September. There seems to be a real thaw in the gridlock. The Republicans in the House seem to want to work together with the president, with Democrats, to get some things done. I'm very happy to see that."</p><p>Lipinski says the bill is a "good start," but believes the U.S. still needs a better long-term plan for job growth. And unlike <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-congressmen-react-obamas-jobs-speech-91747">his Republican colleague Sen. Mark Kirk</a>, Lipinski doesn't support the some of the trade agreements the President has outlined.</p><p>Additionally, the bill would reportedly rely on a series of tax hikes that have all previously been proposed by the White House and rejected by Republicans. They include $40 billion from closing loopholes for oil and gas companies, and $400 billion from limiting the deductions that can be taken by higher-income individuals and families.</p><p>The president will be traveling across the country to rally support for the package this week; on Tuesday and Wednesday, he plans to visit Ohio and North Carolina to rally the public to pressure lawmakers to pass it.</p></p> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 17:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/congressman-optimistic-about-unity-over-obama-jobs-plan-91881 Kirk backing off support of aid to Pakistan http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-backing-support-aid-pakistan-91572 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/KIRK6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois' two U.S. Senators are arguing about how much financial support the U.S. should send to Pakistan.</p><p>Republican Sen. Mark Kirk made a policy speech Tuesday at the Union League Club, proposing a new warning against Pakistan.</p><p>"I think that we should rethink assistance to Pakistan, that it's naïve at best and counterproductive at worst," Kirk said.</p><p>It's a reversal for Kirk, who earlier this year cautioned against cutting aid to Pakistan. He just got back from a trip to Afghanistan and said the Pakistani government supports a group of terrorists called the Haqqani network. Pakistan's government has reportedly denied those claims.</p><p>Kirk said if relations don't improve, the U.S. could get additional help from India, a heated rival of Pakistan.</p><p>But Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin disagrees.</p><p>"I will tell you that I think that would be cataclysmic," Durbin told reports Tuesday at an unrelated news conference when asked by reporters what he thought of bringing India into talks with Pakistan.</p><p>Durbin defended supporting the Pakistani government in fighting terrorism, saying the U.S. government gives a limited amount of money to the country. Spokesmen for Durbin and Kirk says the U.S. has given Pakistan $22 billion in the last decade.</p></p> Tue, 06 Sep 2011 20:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-backing-support-aid-pakistan-91572 As debt ceiling talks drag on, Illinois Sen. Kirk endorses austere deficit plan http://www.wbez.org/story/debt-ceiling-talks-drag-illinois-sen-kirk-endorses-austere-deficit-plan-88743 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-05/kirk.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is endorsing a controversial plan as a way to straighten out the federal budget.</p><p>Lawmakers from both parties are clashing over how to raise the nation's debt ceiling ahead of an Aug. 2 deadline. That's when the U.S. Department of the Treasury estimates the federal government will go into default if Congress doesn't raise its borrowing limit.</p><p>The Republican Kirk told reporters Tuesday that he supports a proposal from the president's <a href="http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.gov/files/documents/TheMomentofTruth12_1_2010.pdf">National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform</a>, which outlined more than $4 trillion in deficit reduction measures in December. The plan would raise the retirement age for Social Security, hike gas taxes and impose spending caps. It met criticism from both sides of the aisle and never made it to Congress for a vote.</p><p>But Kirk said he could accept a scaled-down version.</p><p>"The Senate and the House could go forward on something smaller, as we align the country to the reality that we are spending money that we do not have and need to stop," Kirk said.</p><p>Congressional leaders are in the midst of negotiations with the President Barack Obama about raising the nation's debt ceiling. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Democrats have asked President Barack Obama to meet with them to discuss the situation, after the president rejected a GOP invitation.&nbsp;And Obama's economic team has been invited to Capitol Hill Thursday to look at ways of putting together a package of spending cuts and tax hikes that might resolve the matter.</p><p>But Republicans have said that any tax hikes are a non-starter for a resolution.</p></p> Tue, 05 Jul 2011 17:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/debt-ceiling-talks-drag-illinois-sen-kirk-endorses-austere-deficit-plan-88743 Kirk has doubts about Congress reaching debt limit deal before July 4 recess http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-has-doubts-about-congress-reaching-debt-limit-deal-july-4-recess-88110 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-21/KIRK2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is showing pessimism that lawmakers can reach a deal by the Fourth of July to raise the national debt limit.</p><p>Congressional leaders want to form an agreement before they break for the holiday. But Kirk told reporters Monday that the negotiations will likely drag on until Aug. 2, when the federal government will default on its debts.</p><p>"I am against providing a $2.4 trillion blank check to the executive branch," Kirk said. "I think that takes us in the direction of Greece, or other spendthrift governments that have said 'yes' to every spending idea, and 'no' to their children's economic future."</p><p>Kirk says spending cuts and other restrictions should be part of any deal to raise the debt ceiling. Meanwhile, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnel has said passing a short-term extension is possible if lawmakers don't reach an agreement by their August deadline. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in his chamber, has said it would be catastrophic if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.</p><p>Kirk's comments come as talks on raising the debt limit shift into high gear this week. Vice President Joe Biden, who's leading the talks, says both sides are ready to go 'round the clock if necessary. And officials insist progress has been made.</p><p>But White House press secretary Jay Carney warns some of the toughest choices on spending and revenues lie ahead. Aides are hoping Saturday's golf outing involving Biden, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner might smooth the way to a deal. But with a minimum of $2 trillion in deficit cuts needed to clinch a debt ceiling accord, no one expects it to be easy.</p></p> Tue, 21 Jun 2011 14:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-has-doubts-about-congress-reaching-debt-limit-deal-july-4-recess-88110 Mark Kirk says Blagojevich doesn't deserve pension http://www.wbez.org/story/mark-kirk-says-blagojevich-doesnt-deserve-pension-87787 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Ap kirk.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Jurors in the corruption retrial of Rod Blagojevich are continuing to deliberate and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., is using the occasion to promote legislation he's introducing.</p><p>Kirk's proposed bill targets members of Congress who are convicted on corruption charges, even if those crimes take place after they leave Washington. Kirk pointed to Rod Blagojevich as a good example for how the legislation would work. Blagojevich served six years in the U.S. Congress, representing Chicago's North Side. Later, while governor, he was charged and convicted of lying to federal agents.</p><p>Kirk said Blagojevich shouldn't be rewarded with a pension for his time as a Congressman.</p><p>"Once you have violated the public trust in that way, I think that the taxpayers should not be supporting your retirement," Kirk said.</p><p>Kirk estimates Blagojevich makes several thousand dollars a year from his Congressional pension. The proposed measure wouldn't apply retroactively to Blagojevich.</p><p>Rep. Robert Dold, R-Ill., is sponsoring a similar bill in the House.</p></p> Mon, 13 Jun 2011 20:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/mark-kirk-says-blagojevich-doesnt-deserve-pension-87787