(Updated 1:30 p.m., Wed., Jan. 20 with remarks from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.)
President Barack Obama ended his State of the Union address with a sweeping call for "better," less divisive politics, but the reaction to the speech fell along the usual partisan lines.
What fellow Democrats such as U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-University City, called “a smart, energetic agenda,’’ Republicans like U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, labeled “the same old, tired, Washington-based ideas.”
Bipartisanship appeared to be in unusually ample supply on the first day of the new Congress. That’s not to say that Republicans and Democrats agreed on everything as the 114th Congress got underway -- they didn’t. But still there were moments of bipartisan camaraderie not seen on most days in Congress.
One of the more significant individual displays of bipartisan friendship came in the Senate, where U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., escorted U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill,, for Durbin’s swearing-in ceremony for his fourth Senate term.
In 2012, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., traveled to Cuba to meet with imprisoned AID worker Alan Gross, but he also carried a message from President Barack Obama to leaders in Havana. “I told them this president was genuinely committed to looking for the right opportunity to improve relationships with Cuba,” Durbin said.
In conveying that message Durbin carried the credibility of being a long-time friend of the president and a high-ranking member of the Senate. “And I told them one of the big problems of course was the American prisoner, Alan Gross.”
Were area members of Congress to sum up this session in a single word, that word would most likely be “Growler.” The funding for 15 of Boeing’s high-tech E/A 18G Growlers, which are built in St. Louis, is included in the $1.1 trillion government funding package approved by the Senate over the weekend.
Support for the Growler is the one thing most frequently mentioned by Missouri lawmakers. That bipartisan support helped secure nearly $1.5 billion to keep the Growler going through the end of 2017.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., joined a handful of other centrists-Democrats in voting against Nevada Sen. Harry Reid to be the caucus’ minority leader for the 114th Congress beginning in January. McCaskill said she made her decision in the wake of last week's election, which she said showed that Missouri voters want change.
Senate Democrats return to Washington Wednesday morning knowing that their time in the majority will expire in just a few weeks.
The lame duck session starts Wednesday and ends before Christmas, with a Thanksgiving holiday in between. The new Congress, with its Senate Republican majority of 52 seats, starts shortly after the New Year. The House remains firmly in Republican hands.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, is supporting a non-binding ballot initiative to raise the Land of Lincoln's minimum wage. He said the initiative may help move the issue forward in the Illinois General Assembly.
Illinois’ higher education, business and political leaders are pledging cooperation for an effort to bring manufacturing jobs to the region.
U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, convened a day-long manufacturing summit at Mid-America Airport in Mascoutah. It was aimed at presenting a united front for southern Illinois to compete for manufacturing jobs.