Fellow Illinoisans, during the state work period this summer, I had the opportunity to hear from constituents across Illinois and see the progress being made to improve our state.
Combating the Zika Virus
I started my summer state work period in Urbana, where I heard from local public health officials, doctors, and constituents to discuss how we can better combat the Zika virus. Despite President Obama’s request six months ago for critical emergency funding for Zika, Congressional Republicans have failed to take this threat seriously and provide an adequate response. This inaction has left the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other key agencies without the necessary resources to fight the Zika virus. Now with numerous cases of local Zika transmission in Florida, it’s past time to end the partisan games being played with the health of pregnant women and children and respond to the threat posed by Zika.
Relaunching the Hardest Hit Fund Program for Homeowners
Throughout Illinois, many communities are still facing economic challenges that began during the 2008 financial crisis. I toured several communities, including Granite City and East Hazel Crest, to announce the relaunch of the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF). The HHF was established in February 2010 to provide aid to families and communities that were hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn. This program will help address the problems in the housing market and bring stability back to our communities.
Turning the Tide on the Opioid Abuse Epidemic
This summer, I met with a number of advocates, health professionals, and families whose lives have been affected by addiction to talk about how we can better combat the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic across Illinois. In August, I convened a meeting in Peoria to discuss the impact of the heroin and opioid crisis in the region. Later that month in Gillespie, I visited Maple Street Clinic, a new, federally-funded outpatient addiction treatment program that integrates addiction treatment with wraparound physical health and counseling services. I invited U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to Chicago to tour the Haymarket Center and hear directly from health care providers and people in recovery. We’re also seeing businesses in Illinois lead by example in addressing this crisis.
Strengthening U.S. Cybersecurity Protections at Scott Air Force Base
I continued my state work period travels in the Metro East, where I joined several state and local officials at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Global Operations Command’s facility at Scott Air Force Base. The DISA Global complex houses America’s premier cyber-protection division and contains the most advanced networking systems and largest cyber operations center in the U.S.
Improving Transportation Infrastructure in Springfield
In Springfield, I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Carpenter Street Underpass, which was made possible by TIGER grant funding that I helped secure in 2013. This project marks important progress in our efforts to increase safety, improve passenger rail service, and mitigate freight rail traffic. As Congress negotiates future transportation bills, I will make it a priority that funding is maintained for programs, like TIGER, that empower local leaders who know what projects will best spur economic development in their communities.
Investing in American Innovation
At Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, I joined NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins to see firsthand some of the great scientific research being done in our state and to call for strengthened federal funding for breakthrough research. With the support of robust, sustained federal funding, there is no limit to what science can do to prevent, treat and cure diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. I’ve made it a priority to ensure that young researchers and bright scientists at our nation’s research institutions have the funding they need to discover the new cures that will change the world.
Supporting Efforts to Prevent Gun Violence
In Chicago, I had the chance to meet with some of the incredible Chicagoans who are members of Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK), a community group founded in the Englewood neighborhood that is working to combat gun violence. On evenings during the spring and summer months, members of MASK wear pink t-shirts and patrol the streets to try to prevent violence in the community.
Speaking at the Islamic Society of North America Convention
I finished my state work period travels in Rosemont, where I spoke at the 53rd Annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Convention. As the largest Muslim-American gathering in the U.S., the ISNA Convention provides an important opportunity to show that love trumps hate. I was honored to meet Khizr and Ghazala Khan at the convention.
United States Senator
(Senator Durbin’s Newsletter)
Caption: Richard Durbin, photo: Dariusz Lachowski