Foster, Senger debate gridlock, minimum wage

  • Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and Republican State Rep. Darlene Senger are running against each other for the 11th Congressional District seat.

    Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and Republican State Rep. Darlene Senger are running against each other for the 11th Congressional District seat.

Updated 10/20/2014 6:56 PM

Republican challenger Darlene Senger was on the attack during much of a televised debate in which she called Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster a "do-nothing" candidate.

Senger, a state representative from Naperville seeking Foster's 11th Congressional District seat, said the incumbent hasn't helped move the country forward since taking the post in 2013.


Her comments came during a debate that aired Sunday on ABC 7.

"I understand that things don't happen overnight. I also understand if you want to get things done you have to be part of the do-something Congress," Senger said.

Even though she is in the super minority in the state House, Senger said she has been able to work with Democrats to get things done involving education and pension reform.

"How you do it is you got to sit down, you got to work across the aisle, you've got to come up with what your end goal is and then you've got to come up with solutions to get there," she said.

But Foster, also of Naperville, argued that Republican leadership, namely House Speaker John Boehner, is to blame for many issues not moving forward, including immigration reform.

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"Either you're going to return a leadership that's been blocking this or you're not," he said.

He said one of his main differences with Senger is his refusal to take pledges because he feels doing so drives the gridlock in Congress.

Senger, he said, has taken a pledge "not to compromise on things like the fiscal situation in our country." Senger said the pledge Foster referred to is to not increase taxes.

That, Foster said, creates a problem when there are votes for items like the Simpson-Bowles proposal, which included a mix of revenue increases and spending cuts.

"Every member who had taken the pledge was warned that they better not support the Simpson-Bowles proposal or they would be violating that pledge and, as a result, it got almost no support in Congress," he said.


At one point in the debate, Senger said she's not against raising the minimum wage, but if it is raised, she wants to see "businesses and jobs and opportunities" in place that will help the economy grow.

"We need not only jobs here, but quality jobs and jobs with opportunities," she said. "I'm OK with raising minimum wage but let's make sure we've got natural market forces to continue to go forward."

Foster said Senger's response to the minimum wage question was "very interesting" considering that she called it a "job killer" in a Chicago Tribune endorsement interview.

"It's one of the many issues where you see significant shifts between Representative Senger's positions in the Republican primary and what she's presenting now," he said.

He added that he supports an increase in a minimum wage and wants to ensure that anyone who works 40 hours a week in the U.S. doesn't live in poverty.

The 11th District covers parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties, including Aurora, Naperville, Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge and Joliet.

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