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Sen. Durbin says he's 'open minded' about budget cuts to end debt standoff

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks during a news conference with members of Senate Democratic leadership, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)
Mariam Zuhaib
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks during a news conference with members of Senate Democratic leadership on Dec. 6, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said he's open to some spending cuts as part of a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

The Illinois Democrat said it will take bipartisan cooperation to keep the federal government from defaulting.

“I’m sorry to hear so many of the new leadership in the Republican House are really at least considering the possibility of a government shutdown as part of their tactics. A government shutdown hurts the economy and a lot of innocent people. I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Durbin said in an interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas.

Durbin visited Connect Transit in Normal on Wednesday as the public transportation agency discussed its plans to electrify its bus fleet.

The U.S was set to reach its $31.4 trillion debt cap on Thursday. Without a debt ceiling extension, the Treasury secretary will have to take a series of steps to temporarily delay a default.

Durbin did not specify any particular budget reductions he would support to reach a compromise.

"We could take a look at it. We should go into the next budget with an open mind and I do, but I'm not going to predict that a certain number will be reached or we are going to shutdown the government. That is a Faustian choice," he said.

The federal government last raised the debt ceiling in December 2021.

Classified documents

Durbin said the classified documents recovered from the personal properties of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump's are serious issues, but added the similarities between the two cases end there.

“The reaction of President Biden has been total cooperation. The reaction from President Trump unfortunately was obstruction and charges are being considered in that regard,” said Durbin, adding Biden's legal team turned over the first batch of classified documents right away.

It was weeks, however, before that became public, or before additional classified documents were found.

Both Biden and Trump face special counsel investigations.

Planned Parenthood bombing

Durbin said the recent firebombing of the Peoria Planned Parenthood clinic is terrifying, adding the nation needs to tamp down on what he considers politically-motivated attacks.

“This violence in American political life has to be condemned by both sides. I don’t care whether it comes from the right or the left. It is absolutely unacceptable whether it’s in New Mexico or Peoria or anywhere,” Durbin said.

Damages at the clinic are estimated at $150,000. Planned Parenthood of Illinois expects the health center to remain closed for months. Patients and employees are being redirected to other clinics. The nearest clinic is in Bloomington.

In-clinic abortion procedures aren't performed at either facility.

Presidential primaries

Democrats appear ready to drop Iowa at the first state to help the party select a presidential nominee.

The Democratic National Committee is expected to move up the primary calendar to replace Iowa and New Hampshire as the party kingmakers. Party leaders say they want a more diverse population to help narrow the field of presidential hopefuls.

Durbin said he's pushed the party to consider Illinois as an early primary state.

“I think our state fares well when compared to other states. We have rural areas, we have major urban areas, Black, white and brown population, young and old, it’s a great microcosm of America,” Durbin said.

Critics worry Illinois may be too big for underdog candidates to build grassroots support.

Biden wants South Carolina to go first. It's where his 2020 presidential campaign was revived after poor showings in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

Georgia also is a leading candidate, but could bow out of contention because Republicans don’t intend to move their primary date.

Durbin said fellow U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Gov. JB Pritzker have lobbied for Illinois to host an early primary.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.