Casten has hope for Trump speech, other Illinois reps not optimistic

Sean Casten

In advance of President Trump’s State of the Union Address tonight, U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-6th) has high hopes for what he hopes the president will discuss.

Other members of the Illinois national legislative delegation are not as optimistic and are bringing individuals devastated by the shutdown to send a message to the president.

Tonight’s address gives the president an opportunity to bring our nation together, as well as Democrats and Republicans together to solve issues and deliver results for the American people,” Casten said.  “On the heels of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, our national security is strained, our economy is hampered and thousands of federal workers worse off, now more than ever. We need solutions, and I hope the president will take the opportunity provided by tonight’s address to put politics aside, end his divisive rhetoric and demonstrate statesmanship to tackle these critical matters.

“In addition to those subjects, I hope he will use this opportunity to address reducing the risk of climate change; push for common-sense gun safety legislation; lower healthcare costs and repair the damage done to Affordable Care Act; invest in American infrastructure and middle class jobs; and agree to working in a truly bipartisan fashion to enhance border security and avert another government shutdown.”

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9th), a senior chief deputy whip and vice chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, invited Frank Lagunas, a federal employee who was furloughed during the shutdown as her State of the Union guest.

“The recent shutdown exposed the fragility of federal employees’ economic security,” Schakowsky said. “Roughly 800,000 federal workers and roughly 1.2 million contractors and their families were impacted. That is why I have asked Frank Lagunas, a federal worker for the EPA from Chicago, who was furloughed during the shutdown to serve as my State of the Union guest.

“I want to show President Trump how his hostage-taking of American workers has a continuing impact on the lives of everyday citizens, especially those who are dedicated to the public good.”

Lagunas works for Region 5 of the Environmental Protection Agency. He is serving in the role of remedial project manager of the Superfund Division. He remains an active member of the Region Response Support Corps, having served on deployments to help with EPA’s response efforts in Flint, Mich. and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Lagunas is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University, holding a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He served as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and earned an associate degree in aerospace maintenance technology and management.

U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will welcome Toby Hauck as his guest for Tump’s State of the Union Address.

Hauck, an Aurora, air traffic controller and Air Force veteran, was one of the more than 8,000 federal employees in Illinois who were impacted by the 35-day government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.

During the shutdown, Durbin met with Hauck and air traffic controllers in Aurora and St. Louis to hear their concerns about the shutdown’s impact on their families and Americans’ safety.

“Air traffic controllers have some of the most important and stressful jobs in America. They have the awesome responsibility to safely direct our nation’s aircraft, and their service is often overlooked or taken for granted,” Durbin said. “When President Trump made the irrational decision to shut down his own government for an unrealistic campaign promise, one of the many consequences was unnecessary stress and heartache in air traffic control towers across the country. Federal employees — like Toby — never deserved to be punished and forced to work without pay while Washington squabbled over a political disagreement. Simply put, President Trump’s shutdown was a kick in the gut to Toby Hauck and all of his fellow air traffic controllers. Their stories and pleas to reopen the government in the name of public safety stopped this president from inflicting more damage to our country. I’m honored to have him by my side at the State of the Union.”

During the shutdown, Durbin met with federal employees, who were forced to work without pay. Along with meeting with air traffic controllers in Aurora and St. Louis, Durbin met with federal correctional officers in Pekin and Marion to discuss the impact of the shutdown. He also met with Transportation Security Administration employees at O’Hare Airport in Chicago to hear how the shutdown affected their lives. More than 1,600 TSA employees at O’Hare International Airport and more than 400 TSA employees at Midway Airport worked without pay during the shutdown. Durbin also met with employees of the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research — also known as the Peoria Ag Lab — to learn how the government shutdown was threatening critical research projects, including key antibiotic research.

Hauck is an Air Force veteran and air traffic controller in Aurora. His father and grandfather served in the U.S. military and now his son and daughter-in-law are deployed overseas. Hauck and his wife, a neonatal nurse, are looking after their 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter during her parent’s 10-month deployment. During the shutdown, Durbin told Hauck’s story on the Senate floor.