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No popcorn or soda, but Sens. Durbin and Kirk remind us that we now have two Senators in Illinois

January 25, 2011

In an evening marked by unity, both Illinois U.S. Senators sat together in the House chamber for President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk appeared together on PBS’s NewsHour to discuss their seating arrangements and other weighter matters. 

They also talked about the need to cut government spending.  President Obama proposed tonight a five-year freeze of government spending as well as new “infrastructure investment.”

SEN. MARK KIRK: Well, remember, even if we balance the budget tomorrow, the federal government would spend over $2 trillion. And, so, the question is, first, we need dramatic spending reductions. And then, secondly, with what’s left, if we reallocate it towards America’s economic future, there can be strong possibilities for bipartisan cooperation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Durbin, we also know the president is going to talk tonight about a five-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending. Robert Gibbs was talking to Gwen about that just a moment ago.  Do you have a worry, though, that that is going to necessitate, in short order, deeper cuts in other domestic spending?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: I do. I do.  And I try to imagine what it will mean to freeze it and what kind of cuts will take place. And — and you really have to play this out. Last night, I met with the chiefs of police and sheriffs from major cities across the United States. We talked about mental illness, in light of what happened in Tucson.

And these chiefs of police said to me, you know, right now, the first line of defense against unstable people with mental illness is the police department. It’s the young officer. It’s the jailer. And we have to understand that putting resources into caring for the mentally ill is not only the compassionate thing to do, but important for us to have stability and civility in our society.

So, these are going to be some tough calls. It won’t be easy. I believe we have to bring the deficit down, but I hope we do it in a humane, sensible way.

As refreshing as it was to see the symbolic gesture just weeks after the senseless Tucson shootings, it was also a nice reminder that the State of Illinois is once again finally represented by two U.S. Senators.   

It’s been a long time coming.

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