Mark Kirk

Blunt – Flickr/Gage Skidmore; McCaskill – Flickr/SenatorMcCaskill

A group of about a dozen U.S. senators, including Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., are proposing to create a new agency to help local and state governments leverage private dollars for critical infrastructure projects. The bill is called the BRIDGE Act, which stands for Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment.

human trafficking
FBI website

UPDATED 2:30 p.m. April 23 with Lynch confirmation - Even if it becomes law, the human trafficking bill the Senate approved Wednesday may be remembered most as a historical footnote in a fight that involves abortion issues and Loretta Lynch's nomination. Lynch, who would be the first African American woman attorney general, has faced the longest confirmation delay since the 1980s. The Senate is finally scheduled to vote on her nomination Thursday. She was confirmed 56 to 43, with 10 Republicans voting for her.

The U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
(via Flickr/Wally Gobetz)

After a two-week Easter recess, legislators are back in Washington, D.C.

“There’s a lot of trying to paint the other guy as the bad guy. There’s a lot of posturing,” St. Louis Public Radio’s Washington, D.C. reporter Jim Howard told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Tuesday.

Even while several candidates have announced they’re running for president in 2015, Howard said that it’s not a distraction; rather it is the main event.

A bill co-sponsored by two local legislators is now stalled.


(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.”

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin's website

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.

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

The Air Force's top civilian official spent Tuesday morning at Scott Air Force Base with Illinois' political leaders. 

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk were among the officials who showed Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James around the Metro East military installation. It was the first time James visited the base since being confirmed by the U.S. Senate late last year. Illinois Lt. Gov. Shelia Simon, St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern and Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan were also on hand for James' visit.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) says he will work to extend production of EA-18 G Growlers at Boeing’s defense facility in north St. Louis County.

Kirk, who toured the assembly line and met with company leaders Monday, told reporters he will try to convince Congress to approve and appropriate funds for 22 more of the radar-jamming aircraft.

Building the fighters, he said, supports about 5,000 jobs in the St. Louis area and is critical to the Navy for future conflicts.

(Sean Powers/WILL)

Updated: 3:46 p.m., 5:54 p.m.

Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois has released a statement today in support of same-sex marriage.

On his website, Kirk says "life comes down to who you love and who loves you back:"

When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others.


(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.

(via Wikimedia Commons/United States Senate)

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk will return to work in Washington on Jan. 3, a year after suffering a major stroke that required months of intense rehabilitation.

Kirk has indicated previously that he'd return to work next month but hadn't specified a date. The Republican's spokeswoman, Erin Athas, confirmed the date on Thursday. She had no further details.

(via YouTube/SenatorKirk)

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has issued his first public remarks since suffering a stroke.

In a video released Tuesday, Kirk says he can't wait to get back to work and is walking again. The 52-year-old senator suffered a major stroke in January and underwent emergency surgery. He entered a rehabilitation center in February and was discharged last week.

Here's that video statement:

Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois).
(via Wikimedia Commons/United States Senate)

Mark Kirk's doctor says he is pleased with the Illinois senator's progress in recovering from a stroke in January.

Dr. Richard Harvey said Friday that Kirk continues to improve his "mobility for day-to-day activities." He adds that Kirk has been meeting regularly with his staff and has been getting visits from close friends and family.

Harvey is the medical director of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Center for Stroke Rehabilitation.

(Sean Powers/WILL)

Doctors say Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk has been upgraded to good condition and is continuing to improve after a major stroke.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital neurosurgeon Richard Fessler says Kirk is visiting with family and watched the Super Bowl.

In a Monday statement, Fessler says Kirk will be able to start rehabilitation soon.

The 52-year-old Republican was in good health when he was stricken last month.


Spring session kicks off today in Illinois

Legislative leaders say budget items are expected to top the agenda in the coming weeks. Those items include the state's troubled pension system and Medicaid costs.

House Deputy Majority leader, Democrat Frank Mautino, says Medicaid reform could end up being more controversial than pensions. Mautino says payment cycles are stretching too long and that cuts have to be made.

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk is continuing to improve after a major stroke and has been upgraded to fair condition.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital neurosurgeon Richard Fessler says Kirk is alert, talking and responding well to questions.

The Chicago hospital released a statement Monday about Kirk's progress, a little more than a week after he suffered a stroke that's affected his left side.

(Sean Powers/WILL)

A Democratic senator who planned to sit with a Republican for President Barack Obama's State of the Union address says he will keep the seat empty in honor of his ailing colleague.

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk suffered a stroke this past weekend and underwent surgery Sunday night. He is in intensive care at a Chicago hospital and doctors say he could lose full use of his left arm and experience facial paralysis.

Will be updated.

Updated 12:25 p.m. with more information about Kirk's family's reactions, well-wishes from Ill. Gov. Quinn.

Updated at 1:35 with statements from Sen. Dick Durbin and more information from the doctors.

Relatives of U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk say they're very encouraged by doctors' prognosis after the Illinois Republican underwent surgery following a stroke.

(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.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill
(via Wikimedia Commons/United States Senate)

Reporting from WBEZ's Kate Dries used in this report.

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk says the U.S. doesn't need to give any more aid to Libya.

Speaking to reporters Thursday from Libya, Kirk says the country has enough money to support itself - at least $100 billion seized from former leader Moammar Gadhafi.

"I had my worries that those funds were not being released on time," Kirk said. "But I was reassured by key figures -- the chairman, the prime minister, and the finance minister -- that they have adequate resources for their capacity right now.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Commission charged with redrawing Mo. House districts meets in Jefferson City

A special commission redrawing Missouri's 163 House districts is meeting in Jefferson City with just days to finish its work on a new map. The 18-member bipartisan panel scheduled a working session Friday to draw new boundaries for state House districts to reflect population changes revealed by the latest census. The commission