In an attempt to show there’s no ill will between them after an intense campaign, Illinois U.S. Senator-elect Tammy Duckworth met with outgoing incumbent Mark Kirk Friday at Manny’s Deli in Chicago.
Meeting to break bread, or grab a beer, is a frequent post-election tradition in Illinois politics. But the two didn’t order any of Manny's giant corned beef sandwiches. Instead, they made chit chat over coffee and water while cameras taped their awkward conversation. Kirk told Duckworth about his new puppy and asked if her daughter would be getting any post-election gifts.
Duckworth responded, but pressed Kirk on whether he would further press Senate Republican leadership to give Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a confirmation hearing.
Kirk said a hearing for Garland would be good for the country, but also said, “I hope that when (President-elect Donald Trump) puts forward a justice, people are as reasonable as I was to make sure that we understand under our system the president gets to nominate.”
“Well, the president has nominated someone and he still has not gotten a hearing,” Duckworth responded.
The two also talked about what to expect from the lame duck session before Trump is sworn in.
“Mitch (McConnell) just called me and I said, ‘What are we doing this lame duck?’” Kirk said. “He said, ‘I don’t know. I gotta check with the guy that just won the presidency on that stuff.’”
Sen. Mark Kirk says he got a new puppy after losing reelection on Tuesday to Rep Tammy Duckworth pic.twitter.com/vT8ZUTUvUl— Tony Arnold (@tonyjarnold) November 11, 2016
Duckworth said she hopes to pass an infrastructure spending bill shortly after taking her position in the Senate.
After seven minutes of conversation, Duckworth and Kirk addressed reporters’ questions about how this meeting is supposed to set an example for the peaceful transition of power in the United States at a time when there have been demonstrations in downtown Chicago this week against the election of Trump.
“It’s time to heal,” Duckworth said. “It’s time to bring the country together and there’s real anger and real pain on both sides. I think for those of us who are the public faces of either party, we need to come together and find a way to work together.”
Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.