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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jun 18

Most Illinois Congressional Members Get Passing Grades On National Poverty Scorecard

Six Democratic members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation had a perfect voting record in 2013 on legislation important to people living in poverty, according to a new scorecard and report published by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

Meanwhile, no Republican Congressmen from Illinois earned a grade higher than a 'D' on the center's 2013 Poverty Scorecard, which looked at the voting record of every U.S. senator and representative on poverty-related issues during the last calendar year. The scores were tabulated based on 18 votes taken in the House and Senate on legislation covering a variety of subject areas including budget and tax, food and nutrition, health care, immigrants, cash assistance, domestic violence, education and the workforce, to name a few. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Thu Dec 5, 2013

Seniors Rally Against Social Security Cuts, Tell Congress Not To Balance The Budget On Their Backs (VIDEO)

With Social Security reform on the table during congressional budget talks to reduce federal spending, about a dozen protesters, most of which were retirees, gathered in downtown Chicago Thursday to call on Congress to reject proposals that “balance the budget on the backs of seniors.”

“Keep your hands off our Social Security,” chanted the protesters who, organized by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) and the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, rallied at Federal Plaza.

The protesters urged Illinois’ congressional delegates to reject any legislative proposal that boosts the retirement age above 67, increases means testing for Medicare premiums or changes cost-of-living-adjustments to a chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation formula.

“This is becoming a budgetary issue, but it’s a matter of priorities,” said Jay Lewkowitz, 65, congressional district coordinator for the NCPSSM. “Our country needs to tell Congress that taking care of an aging population and making sure our safety net stays intact is a priority for us.” Read more »

PI Original
by Aricka Flowers
Thu Oct 17, 2013

Government Shutdown Ends, Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted — For Now

The federal government is now open, workers are back on the job and the debt ceiling deadline of October 17 was barely met following a late night for Congress and the president. Progress Illinois takes a look the new deal, the effects of the government shutdown and what's next for Congress.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Sep 20, 2013

U.S. Reps. Andrews, Van Hollen Slam Republicans Over Vote To Defund ObamaCare

With the threat of a government shut down just days away, U.S. Reps. Rob Andrews (D, NJ-1) and Chris Van Hollen (D, MD-8) blasted House Republicans on Friday for voting for a short-term spending bill that also defunds ObamaCare.

“There’s not a soul who thinks that the bill that passed today has any chance of becoming law,” Andrews said on a conference call with reporters. “Not Ted Cruz. Not John Boehner. Not Eric Cantor. No one. Every understands this was just an exercise in futility.”

Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Sep 13, 2013

Large Coalition Of National Organizations Urges Congress To Enact House Dems Plan To Avoid Government Shutdown

With the threat of a government shutdown looming, a coalition representing 3,200 organizations looking to stave off cuts to public services threw its support behind an alternative, short-term spending plan Thursday put forth by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD, 8), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

Van Hollen's proposal would replace the sequester for fiscal year 2014 through a "balanced approach" of spending cuts, including slashes to agriculture and oil company subsidies, and revenue increases. It would fund the government through November 15 at the level laid out in the Budget Control Act of 2011, or $1.058 trillion. 

NDD United, which represents the organizations invested in education, public health and other interests, called Van Hollen's proposal a "step in the right direction" in the continuing effort to end sequestration for good.

“Of course we should ensure that our government continues getting funded, and of course we should avoid anything that makes the pain of the sequester permanent. The question is, will lawmakers make the hard choices required to end the next nine years of sequester’s harmful cuts,” asked NDD United Co-Chair Emily Holubowich, the executive director of Coalition for Health Funding, in a statement.

Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Sep 10, 2013

Federal Sequestration Takes A Toll On Illinois Head Start Programs

Some 1,600 fewer children in Illinois will be served in Head Start programs this school year due to the federal sequestration, according to the National Head Start Association.

The 5 percent, across-the-board cut to all Head Start programs in the country as part of the sequester, which took effect March 1, also means an estimated 300 Illinois early childhood education jobs will be lost, the Illinois Head Start Association estimates.

The decrease in federal funding for Illinois' 48 Head Start grantees, which served more than 52,000 students last year, also means the state's various Head Start centers will lose a combined 33,410 days of service.

"It's going to be a rough year," said Illinois Head Start Association's Executive Director Lauri Morrison-Frichtl. Read more »

PI Original
by Ashlee Rezin
Tue Jun 11, 2013

No Labels Bipartisan Coalition Set To Introduce Legislation On Government Waste

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D, IL-10) was recently the 70th elected official to join a bipartisan coalition of congressional delegates attempting to build trust across the aisle, the Problem Solvers. The group plans to unveil its first package of bills, addressing waste in government, by the end of next month.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu May 30, 2013

Sequester Cuts Deal A Blow To The Long-Term Unemployed

The long-term unemployed in Illinois will soon see their weekly federal unemployment insurance payments reduced by an average of $51 as a result of the federal sequester cuts. We take a deeper look at the issue.