Dold, Schneider engage over VA wait times
The scandal brewing at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over veterans' health care has made it to the suburbs' highest-profile race for Congress.
Republican Bob Dold of Kenilworth criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield for, he said, not being vocal enough about the lengthy wait times faced by some veterans at VA hospitals across the country, including the Edward Hines Jr. VA hospital near Maywood.
"It's further alarming that absent from the growing chorus of lawmakers calling for accountability is Congressman Brad Schneider," Dold said in a statement. "I demand more from those charged with the care of our veterans; anyone responsible should be let go without delay."
On Wednesday, after the release of a report that suggested VA officials falsified report about wait times at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Schneider said the report "confirmed egregious violations" and added that on May 14 he requested that Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago look into its own practices.
"This is unacceptable and disgraceful. Secretary (Eric) Shinseki must immediately act to implement the recommended changes throughout the entire VA system and take the appropriate measures to ensure those responsible are held accountable," Schneider said in a statement.
Schneider hit Dold after the Republican said in a radio interview Sunday he supports the DREAM Act, legislation intended to let children who don't have legal immigration status get it under certain conditions.
Schneider pointed to a 2012 vote by Dold, who previously held Schneider's congressional seat, in favor of a proposal to give federal authorities money to deport some of the people the DREAM Act is meant to help.
"There were Republicans in Congress who stood up to their party and opposed targeting 'DREAMers', sadly, Bob Dold wasn't one of them," Schneider campaign manager Jamie Patton said in a statement.
National Republican Campaign Committee spokeswoman Katie Prill called the criticism a "political hit piece."
At least they didn't vote
As state lawmakers finish their budget debate in Springfield as early as today, an audit released Thursday says the state's Department of Healthcare and Family Services paid $12.3 million for the medical bills of 2,850 people who had been dead for at least 60 days and therefore shouldn't have been charging the state for medical bills.
The agency told auditors it immediately moved to solve the problem.
Setting the bar
At a hearing about her plan to cut Cook County workers' pension benefits, county board President Toni Preckwinkle fielded compliments from state Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, for how she's been running things since taking over for former county President Todd Stroger.
"The bar was pretty low," Preckwinkle said.
State Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican, criticized Democrats on the House floor for approving a spending package and then on the next day raising their income estimates to match.
Republicans all month have taken Democrats to task for moving forward with spending plans before knowing how much money the state is set to take in.
"The process is kind of bass ackwards," Harris said.
The coldest case
On the U.S. House floor, Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Winfield Republican, told an abbreviated story of two conservation officers killed in McHenry County starting more than 100 years ago.
The two brothers, G. Earle Eldredge and Charles Marcus Eldredge, the story goes, were killed by the same gun more than 20 years apart. Hultgren was supporting a local push to memorialize them.
In 1907, G. Earle Eldredge was investigating potential poaching near Richmond. Somehow, someone killed him with his own gun. The killers weren't found.
His brother, Charles Marcus Eldredge, kept the gun with him and wanted to find the killer. In 1931, that gun was taken from him, and he was shot with it.
The two brothers, Hultgren said, are the only two conservation officers in Illinois who have fallen in the line of duty.