Schakowsky: House GOP to blame for gridlock

Federal legislative action is being hampered by House Republicans who refuse to compromise, says seven-term Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

The 9th District incumbent from Evanston said Wednesday that's true among Illinois' GOP congressional delegation.

“On touchstone issues of immigration, raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance and helping to fix instead of repeal the Affordable Care Act, the tale is told in their votes,” she told the Daily Herald editorial board during an endorsement interview ahead of the Nov. 4 election. “Their opinions are out of touch with the rest of America.”

She said the House GOP's refusal to compromise with the Democratic majority in the Senate and a Democratic president is hindering progress and stymieing job growth.

“Historically, the transportation bill has not really been a controversial piece of legislation, but now we're having a hell of a time,” she said.

Schakowsky said that while Republican congressmen are often at odds among themselves on broad issues, the Illinois GOP congressional members are able to work with Illinois congressional Democrats on issues that affect their home state.

“When it comes to supporting various projects in Illinois, those meetings are congenial,” she said.

Schakowsky added that the relationship between the state's congressional leaders in both parties has improved with the departure of one-term firebrand Tea Party favorite Joe Walsh last year.

“With Joe gone, he was so, you know ... it's better,” she said.

Schakowsky is pushing legislation that would increase the nation's minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour for non-tipped workers. However, she specifically singled out the tipping minimum wage of $2.13 as needing a significant hike since it hasn't changed in more than two decades.

“The states that have raised the minimum wage above the federal minimum are doing economically better,” she asserted.

Schakowsky is one of the 23 members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She said that while protection of the “homeland is pretty good,” many in the nation's intelligence community were “taken by surprise” by the strength of the terrorist group ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a militant faction that has taken over several Iraqi cities as the U.S. reduces its presence in the region.

“I think we need to up our intelligence operations and not be surprised by any of these jihadist groups,” she said.

She suggested eliminating so-called “signature strikes” of missiles by drone aircraft from military and intelligence operations. These types of missile attacks target suspicious behaviors of suspected terrorists instead of actual leaders of terrorist organizations. Many such missile strikes have killed innocent civilians, according to military analysts and media reports.

“Those do more harm than good,” she said.

Schakowsky is challenged by Republican Susanne Atanus on the November ballot. Atanus has refused, so far, to meet with the Daily Herald editorial board. Schakowsky did not mention her opponent during Wednesday's hourlong meeting.

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