LaHood, Krishnamoorthi deliver bipartisan message at Bradley
Posted Mar 28, 2018 at 5:13 PM
Updated Mar 28, 2018 at 5:23 PM
PEORIA — Democrats and Republicans can get along. That was the message delivered at Bradley University on Wednesday when Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Schaumburg, discussed political issues of the day at a program sponsored by the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service and the Dirksen Congressional Center.
The two men represent different parties and different parts of the state but share Peoria connections. LaHood, the son of Ray LaHood, former secretary of transportation and longtime area congressman, has represented the 18th District since 2015. Krishnamoorthi, who grew up in Peoria, where his father, K.S. Krishnamoorthi, serves as an engineering professor at Bradley, was elected to Congress in 2016.
While welcoming the pair, BU President Gary Roberts recounted his first understanding of bipartisanship. While growing up in Minnesota in the 1950s, Roberts said it didn’t occur to him that there was anything unusual about Hubert Humphrey, the state’s liberal senator, having Barry Goldwater, the leading conservative of his day, as his best friend. “In the last few years, that hasn’t been the case in Washington,” he said.
Brad McMillan, the institute’s executive director, pointed to a large display of a Time magazine cover featuring Everett Dirksen, the U.S. senator from Pekin, after passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
“It was a yearlong process to get that landmark legislation passed,” said McMillan, noting that 27 of 33 Republicans voted for the measure along with 43 of 67 Democrats.
“Bipartisanship is not easy, but when it happens, significant action can take place,” he said.
Krishnamoorthi, recently in the news pressing the White House for results of an inquiry into $500 million in loans made to Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, saluted Dirksen’s past role. “That kind of leadership is sorely missing in Washington right now,” he said.
In running down their positions on various issues, both men emphasized the importance of reforming the nation’s immigration laws.
“We admit 1.2 million people legally into this country every year. They end up being our best citizens,” said LaHood, suggesting support for expanding the number of immigrants admitted to 1.6 million annually.
LaHood said only 8 percent of immigrants admitted to the United States at present qualify on the basis of skills and merits, while Canada requires 80 percent of its immigrants be skilled. “We need to take a look at that,” he said.
Krishnamoorthi, whose congressional district includes O’Hare International Airport, said congressional support was there for immigration reform but remained bottled up in committee. “It needs to come to a vote,” he said.
When it came to gun laws, LaHood said he wasn’t in favor of arming teachers but supported raising from 18 to 21 the age when one can buy a gun in Illinois.
Krishnamoorthi said the recent school shooting in Florida and resulting protests by young people across the nation have brought about a change in Washington. “Now we have to take action,” he said.
In regards to trade issues, LaHood said he was disappointed in “the protectionist policies of the administration,” adding that agriculture remains the No. 1 industry in Illinois. “Forty percent of the corn and soybeans go outside the country,” he said.
President Donald Trump’s proposed infrastructure funding plan providing states with only 20 percent federal support “isn’t going to happen,” said LaHood. “States can’t afford it,” he said, suggesting that a funding source such as additional gas tax revenue needs to be found.
Both men agreed on the need for campaign reform. “After Citizens United, the spigots opened up like crazy, especially dark money from super PACs,” said Krishnamoorthi, referring to the 2010 Supreme Court decision that allowed for unlimited spending on political advertising.
“Too much time is spent on fundraising. I have to raise $4 million each election cycle for the Chicago media market. The system has to be changed,” said Krishnamoorthi.
LaHood called raising money the catch-22 of American politics. “The worst part of the job is raising money. The most important job is raising money,” he said.
Author: Steve Tarter