Dick Durbin

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

US Senator Dick Durbin is proposing a carrot-and-stick approach to encourage police departments in Illinois to trace guns used in crimes.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives runs the internet-based system known as eTrace, which can tell investigators who first purchased the gun and where it was manufactured.  But Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, says just half of the police departments or sheriff’s offices in Illinois use the  system. 

(via Wikimedia Commons/United States Senate)

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)  says he will hold a hearing on so-called "stand your ground" laws. 

About 30 states have some form of the law, which gives a person the right to use deadly force to protect themselves if they feel their life is in danger. 

A Florida version of "stand your ground" played a role in the trial of George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.  


Durbin is an Illinois Democrat and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.


This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON -- Capping months of intense negotiations and debate, the Senate approved a wide-ranging overhaul of the nation's immigration laws on Thursday, including a high-tech "border surge" and long-sought steps to build a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON – In a key test for immigration reform legislation, the U.S. Senate on Monday cleared the way for a vote on a compromise “border surge” amendment by a convincing majority of 67 to 27 -- setting the stage for likely approval of the entire bill on Friday.

(via Wikimedia Commons/United States Senate)

The number two Democrat in the U.S. Senate said President Barrack Obama should release more statements on electronic intelligence gathering strategies and step up efforts to engage the public.

In the wake of controversial intelligence gathering activities spearheaded by the National Security Agency (NSA) being disclosed to the public, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also said it’s time for a larger conversation about privacy in the digital age.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is once again wading into East St. Louis' local politics, sounding alarm over a proposal to create an entertainment district featuring all-night clubs. 

Durbin, D-Illinois, has clashed with East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks in the past couple of years over the closing times of clubs and liquor stores in the Metro East municipality.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON -- With the White House stepping up the pressure, conservative lawmakers firing salvos, and one senator going so far as to deliver his remarks in Spanish, the Senate's long-anticipated debate began this week on an immigration bill that is a high priority but faces an uncertain future in Congress.

(Elena Schneider/Medill News Service)

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois says the way American veterans receive disability claims has "got to change."

His comments come as the federal Department of Veterans Affairs is working on a new digital, paper-less way of handling the claims. The V.A is working to get that done by September.

Durbin says on average, Illinois veterans wait close to a year for payments - which he says is the third-worst rate in the country.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Note: Next week, we will be having a live recording of the podcast to wrap-up the legislative session, and to take questions from listeners. If you're interested in attending, you can find more information about the event here.

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel joins the St. Louis Beacon’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum to talk about the week’s politics.

(via Wikimedia Commons/United States Senate)

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the current federal budget battle could present an opportunity for a “grand bargain” between Republicans and Democrats, asserting that  it's time to reform Medicare and other entitlements.

As a guest on Fox News Sunday, the number two Democrat in the Senate also managed to get in a political jab at Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).   

Enyart, Durbin Push Bills To Aid Shipping Industry

Mar 14, 2013
via Flickr/TeamSaintLouis (Army Corps of Engineers)

A pair of bills related to transportation on the inland waterways was introduced in the US House and Senate on Thursday.

Illinois Congressman Bill Enyart introduced his first piece of legislation since being sworn into office last January—the Mississippi River Navigation Sustainment Act.

Enyart says the bill would give the Army Corps of Engineers authority that it doesn’t currently have, to conduct operations outside of the barge channel.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Illinois' two U.S. senators - Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk - say they and other senators will introduce a bill to crack down on gun trafficking and straw purchasing.

Sequester Cuts Threaten Civilian Employees At Scott AFB

Feb 25, 2013
Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois’ elected officials are warning that looming sequester budget cuts would have significant impacts on Scott Air Force Base.

Located in Mascoutah, IL, in the Metro East, Scott Air Force Base about 13,000 military and civilian personnel, making it one of the largest employers in the St. Louis region.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts set to kick in on Friday would affect about 4500 civilian employees at Scott and would cause significant harm to the readiness of our military.

(Official Portrait/via Wikimedia Commons)

With a deal to avoid drastic spending cuts behind them, members of Congress are gearing up for what could be another grueling round of negotiations over the federal debt-ceiling.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says members need to get to the bargaining table early this time.

The number two Democrat in the Senate told CNN’s Candy Crowley Sunday that he really doesn’t want to see a sequel to the so called “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois politicians and business leaders met in Alton on Monday to discuss ongoing efforts to keep shipping open on the drought-stricken Mississippi River.

The meeting coincides with work by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to remove rock formations from the riverbed just south of Cape Girardeau.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin called the drought situation “a historic challenge," saying that additional measures may have to be taken to keep commerce functioning.

(Official Portrait/via Wikimedia Commons)

On Sunday a somber Dick Durbin said the nation is in mourning in the wake of last week’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.     

Then the Democratic U.S. Senator from Illinois told Fox News Sunday host, Chris Wallace, it’s time to think about whether people should be able to buy assault rifles, body armor and high-capacity clips.  

“Can we have a thoughtful, calm reflection on these things and do it in the context of our second amendment?” Durbin asked.  “I think we need to.” 

(screenshot via Google Maps)

Residents of a small northwest Illinois village say they're eager for economic opportunities after the sale of a prison to the federal government. 

The Chicago-Sun Times reports that the sale of Thomson Correctional Center could bring up to 1,600 inmates and just as many jobs to struggling Thomson where fewer than 600 people reside.

(screenshot via Google Maps)

Updated at 5:45 p.m. with additional comments from Gov. Quinn and comments from Sen. Durbin. Brian Mackey contributed reporting.

Updated at 2 p.m. with statement from Gov. Pat Quinn.

The federal government has agreed to purchase the underused Thomson Correctional Center in northwest Illinois to relieve crowding in its facilities, despite fervent opposition from members of Congress.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

We recognize today as the anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Please see our resources for stories related to that commemoration here.

Mo. judge to hear case against worship disruption law

A federal judge will hear arguments today in a lawsuit over Missouri's new law making it a crime to disturb a worship service.

Attorneys for the ACLU are seeking a temporary injunction to block the law that took effect last month.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The East St. Louis Housing Authority will use a portion of a federal grant it received in February to boost security at its seven main housing projects in the city.

The funds will allow for the construction of a perimeter fence at the John DeShields homes, new exterior lighting at the same site, and security cameras at all seven of the authority's major properties. The authority will also be able to hire eight full-time security guards.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

New Illinois laws aim to protect elderly

New laws signed by Gov. Pat Quinn this weekend are aimed at protecting the elderly in Illinois by increasing oversight of caregivers and making it easier for authorities to respond to cases of abuse or neglect.

One of the new pieces of legislation allows prosecutors to ask a court to freeze a suspect's assets if he is charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person. That's meant to keep a defendant from spending stolen money before restitution is collected.

vxla / Flickr

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is urging railroad companies to conduct frequent track inspections to prevent rail derailments resulting from heat-related track buckling.
The Illinois Democrat's remarks during a Sunday press conference come as investigators continue to examine the cause of a July 4 train derailment that killed two people.
A Glenview husband and wife were crushed by the wreckage of a Union Pacific freight train derailment that caused a suburban Chicago railroad bridge to collapse. It sent train cars crashing onto the couple's car on the road below.

UPI/Paul Newton/The Southern

Southern Ill. denied federal disaster aid

The parts of southern Illinois destroyed by deadly storms and a tornado last month will not be declared federal disaster areas.

U.S Senator Dick Durbin says FEMA's decision will make it tough on local government, businesses and individuals affected by the storms.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

A U.S. senator is stepping up his efforts to limit nightclub hours in East St. Louis.

Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday that earlier closing times for nightclubs and liquor stores would improve safety for city residents. The Illinois Democrat specifically challenged Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. to do his part in reducing crime rates. (Read the full letter from Durbin to Parks).

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is touting new measures to increase security for public housing residents in East St. Louis. The federally-funded plan includes installing cameras at six high-rise properties and hiring a new security coordinator.

"We're going to be putting up lighting and fencing," Durbin said. "We're going to move forward to try to make sure the almost 4,500 residents of public housing in East St. Louis have a safer place to live."

(via Flickr/Eddie~~S)

$1.3 million ATM Solutions money restolen

The $6.6 million robbery of ATM Solutions in St. Louis in 2010 is believed to be the largest heist ever in St. Louis. It turns out the robbers themselves were victimized, too - at least $1.3 million was re-stolen. 

Durbin supports calls for repeal of Defense of Marriage Act

Some U.S Senators will be looking to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act this year.

The law prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Ill. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says he wants it repealed as it relates to federal benefits.

"I believe that we should have marriage equality in this county, that we should treat people fairly, that we should not discriminate against them in this circumstance," said Durbin.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Reporting from WBEZ's Susie An used in this report.

Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk says North Korea faces instability after the death of dictator Kim Jong Il.

Kirk, a Republican, says regardless, the U.S. should attend the funeral of Kim Jong Il if invited by North Korea.

"We should sent a delegation because we should always try to build a new relationship with the regime even though it looks pretty bleak at this point," Kirk said.

(via Wikimedia Commons/United States Senate)

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says Democrats will continue to push for votes on a payroll tax cut extension after it failed.

Senate Republicans on Thursday rejected a Democratic plan to pay for the $120 billion tax cut extension with an extra tax on income above $1 million. Durbin says Congress is "going to go back to this next week and the following week."