In charge now: What will Democratic House reps from the suburbs do?v

 
 
Updated 11/10/2018 10:30 PM
hello
  • U.S. Rep.-elect Lauren Underwood waits offstage to give her victory speech Tuesday at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles. She hopes to serve on a House health-related committee.

      U.S. Rep.-elect Lauren Underwood waits offstage to give her victory speech Tuesday at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles. She hopes to serve on a House health-related committee. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • U.S. Rep.-elect Sean Casten celebrates Tuesday with U.S. Rep. Bill Foster during an election night party in Warrenville. Casten hopes to serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

      U.S. Rep.-elect Sean Casten celebrates Tuesday with U.S. Rep. Bill Foster during an election night party in Warrenville. Casten hopes to serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley heads into a closed-door Intelligence Committee meeting in February. He expects Democrats on the committee will reopen the Russia probe next year.

    U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley heads into a closed-door Intelligence Committee meeting in February. He expects Democrats on the committee will reopen the Russia probe next year. Associated Press/Alex Brandon

After eight years in the minority, local Democratic congressional representatives are ready to take an active role in issues such as Russian tampering in the 2016 election and potential conflicts of interest by Cabinet members.

But the new empowerment extends to topics like securing more funding for infrastructure and airport noise abatement, said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, who was re-elected Tuesday to the 5th District serving some Western suburbs and Chicago.

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield said other priorities include taking action to reduce gun violence and helping undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Along with Quigley and Schneider, Democratic U.S. Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg, Jan Schakowsky of Evanston and Bill Foster of Naperville return to office. Two more Democrats join the suburban delegation once Congress is sworn in Jan. 3: U.S. Reps.-elect Sean Casten of Downers Grove in the 6th District and Lauren Underwood of Naperville in the 14th District.

Quigley, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said it's vital Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into Russia's role in the election. "Our job is to try and protect (Mueller) and the Russia investigation and reinstate our own investigation," he said.

Chairman Devin Nunes ended the House Intelligence Committee's Russia probe in March. Republicans said there was no evidence President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election results.

Now "circumstances and new evidence indicates that many people who testified were less than candid," Quigley said. He added that in the meantime Mueller has indicted key players like former Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort.

When the probe reopens under new, Democratic committee leadership, "money laundering (by Russia) is an issue I anticipate we'll work on," Quigley said.

Schneider, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and Committee on Small Business, said his priorities are to address "real problems" facing Americans.

"The Judiciary Committee has not held a single substantive hearing aimed at reducing gun violence or providing a secure future for DREAMers in our community," Schneider said, referring to undocumented immigrants brought into the U.S. as children.

Krishnamoorthi serves on the Committee for Oversight and Government Reform. He expects some Cabinet members will be on the hot seat after the new Congress is seated, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is being investigated over conflict of interest allegations.

"There seems to be rampant self-dealing and outright corruption," Krishnamoorthi said.

Asked how the Democrats walk the line between oversight and not piling on Republicans, Krishnamoorthi said voters are clear that "people want us to work together with the other side."

For Quigley, "my job is to look past that (Nunes' decision) and to encourage members of the committee to work on all the issues, not just the Russian investigation.

"There are lots of Republicans we can work with to get things done. Mario Diaz-Balart is a breeze to work with," he said, referring to a Florida Republican who sits with Quigley on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Next year, Quigley will chair an Appropriations subcommittee: Financial Services and General Government.

"My goal is to drive resources back to Chicago, especially in infrastructure," Quigley added, citing the CTA, Metra and Pace as agencies he hopes to aid.

Quigley hopes the committee's power to fund government agencies can be a bargaining chip in securing more soundproofing dollars from the Federal Aviation Administration for residents near O'Hare International Airport. "We have the ability to help and the ability to withhold," he said.

Committee assignments are up to congressional leaders, but Underwood, a Naperville registered nurse, would "love to serve on one of the three house committees with jurisdiction over health care," spokeswoman Andra Belknap said.

Casten, a scientist and businessman from Downers Grove, said he'd "love to serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee."

Last week, Trump said he looked forward to bipartisan negotiations with Democrats but also warned the House not to over-investigate, explaining that the Senate could start its own investigations.

That's an unlikely scenario, Krishnamoorthi said. "I have a hard time seeing the Senate investigating their House counterparts for doing their jobs."

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.