Peoria Journal Star

January 30, 2002

Illinois Democrats praise Bush’s poise 
Sen. Durbin calls address ‘a deserved victory lap’ 


By DORI MEINERT 
of Copley News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Illinois Democrats praised President Bush’s leadership in the war against terrorism, downplaying partisan differences with the president who delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night to a supportive American public. 

But they showed less unity over how to resolve the nation’s economic problems. 

Bush’s speech was "a deserved victory lap" for the war on terrorism, said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. 

"He brought the Congress together. He brought the country together. We’ve made dramatic progress since Sept. 11," Durbin said. 

However, he and other Democrats predicted the Bush administration will have more difficulty resolving the nation’s economic problems, unemployment, health care, pensions and retirement security. 

"Congress has stood with the president on national security and on homeland security. There will be a debate on economic security and I think we can work out our differences," Durbin said. 

Rep. Lane Evans, D-Rock Island, said: "We have to respond to the real threats of a weaker economy and a budget deficit. 

"We have to protect hard-working people from reckless actions of Enron, stop corporate irresponsibility and create real retirement security," Evans said. 

Rep. David Phelps, D-Eldorado, warned that "to achieve real security, we must not forget the homefront. We have a recession that has left many people out of work and without health care, so we need to work together to create new jobs and provide quality, affordable health care." 

Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, said tax relief should be targeted "to the hard-working families that need it the most." 

Meanwhile, Republicans blamed the Democrat-controlled Senate for stalling key pieces of legislation backed by the Republican White House. 

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Yorkville, noted that the House has twice passed an economic stimulus plan, but that the Senate hasn’t done its part. 

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, whose district includes the southern part of Springfield, said: "The House has passed 50 bills . . . that have not yet been voted on by the Senate." 

"We could get a lot of things done if we work together," Shimkus said. 

Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., said President Bush "outlined a clear strategy for waging the war on terrorism, protecting our citizens and our shores, and promoting job growth and economic opportunity." 

Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, wasn’t available for comment.