Senate welcomes President back to Springfield


Statement by Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton regarding President Obama’s return to the Illinois Capitol:

“Twice this man has rallied the country to dare us to see a better future and invigorated the American spirit. I have had the honor of a front-row seat to witness my friend’s personal and professional growth from a colleague here in the Illinois Senate to leader on the world stage.

I’ve watched a consistency of character guide him in his challenge to improve the lives of the people he represented first in Chicago, then this state and ultimately across our country. Along the way, he has challenged each and every one of us to be the solution, to rise above rhetoric, refuse to be so easily divided and recognize avenues for agreement even among those who disagree.

As this chapter in his uniquely American story begins to draw to a close, I am left inspired by a message I first heard from a young community organizer seeking a seat in the Illinois Senate: that if we are to have a better country, we must never stop believing in a better country.”

Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) issued the following statement about President Barack Obama’s address:

“President Obama delivered a magnificent speech to the Illinois General Assembly and offered a timely call for a better politics. It was simultaneously a reminder of the nobility of public service and a warning about the fragility of our democracy if we don’t work every day to protect it.

“I was thrilled that the president made voter participation a key ingredient in his recipe for a better America. I think he put forth a plan for what could be a real turning point for the American body politic. I look forward to being part of this important conversation.”

Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D – Maywood) released the following statement.

“More than the words spoken, sometimes a tone that strikes the right chord can deliver the strongest message. Beyond the president’s message of principled compromise, which I believe we all gravely needed to hear, his hopeful, yet defiant tone is what I take away most from the speech today.

“To move past the gridlock, we have to defy the pervasive narrative that we cannot work together or that political interests are outweighing the interests of the people. Our leaders need to come together with a fresh outlook and a grounded understanding of the consequences of their motivations and actions. Then and only then, will we move forward in a democracy for the people, by the people.”

Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement about President Barack Obama’s address to the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield today:

“President Barack Obama returned to Springfield today nine years after he announced his bid for the White House on the steps of the Old State Capitol. As he did in 2007, he called on each and every one of us to change our system of government for the better – something Americans have done time and again since our nation’s founding.

“It was an honor for President Obama to address the Illinois General Assembly – the place where he began his career in public service – as he embarks on the final year of his presidency. I appreciate his timely call for collaboration and an elevated tone in government, and I look forward to being part of the conversation going forward.”

State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) issued the following statement reflecting on President Barack Obama’s speech to the Illinois General Assembly on Tuesday:

“This was a great reminder of the importance of compromise. Real progress can only be achieved by working together, and we need that now more than ever in Springfield. I’m hopeful that this positive message can ease some of the tension in the Capitol so we can set aside this gridlock and actually govern.

“This is only the second time a president has spoken to lawmakers in Springfield—the last time was President Carter in 1978. Today carried so much added weight since President Obama actually served the people of Illinois here. I was honored and humbled to be part of this historic day.”

Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) gave the following response to President Barack Obama’s speech to the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday.

“I applaud President Obama for returning to Springfield to address a much needed topic in both our national and state discourse. The partisan bickering does nothing but tarnish the image of government.

“President Obama and I joined the State Senate at the same time. I got to know a young man who believed in doing whatever possible to make the state and the country a better place. The president would work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, who had the goal of making Illinois a better place to live and work.

“It used to be that we could sit down in a room and respectfully disagree on critical issues, but still come to a solution. In today’s political environment I don’t know if we can say the same. I am proud the president came to address this very important issue. I urge everyone to heed the president’s call for a politics that reflects our better selves as we continue to work hard for the people of Illinois.

As President Obama said in 2007, we need to stop doing things to score cheap political points and roll up our sleeves to get the hard work done for those who sent us to Springfield.”

Read the President's full speech

Watch the President's full speech