Durbin says GOP not open to changing health overhaul
URBANA — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Sunday in Urbana that he thinks changes are needed to the federal Affordable Care Act, but some Republicans' insistence on defunding or derailing it is preventing negotiations.
"If we were in a constructive situation where we could sit down, there are a number of things that we could do," Durbin said after delivering a speech to the annual dinner of the Champaign County Democratic Party. "We passed it 3-1/2 years ago and there are things we've got to resolve. The restaurateurs come to me and say, 'This 30-hour requirement that defines 30 hours a week as full time creates a problem for us.'
"There's a way to deal with that. We can deal with it. But you can't even get the Republicans to sit down and talk about changes. It's 'Nope, defund it, destroy it, defeat it.'"
Durbin also said that he doesn't think Congress will allow another government shutdown this winter when a temporary agreement expires.
"There have been enough people, including (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell, who have said we're not going to shut the government down again. I think they've learned their lesson," he said. "Two weeks before they started this stuff, they did a national survey and asked people, 'What party do you identify with?' Twenty-one percent said Republican. That was the lowest number since Watergate, and that was before this shutdown. Then in the midst of this the Gallup Poll comes out and their approval rating is at 28 percent, the lowest number since the impeachment of President Clinton.
"They just dragged their brand down into the mud. I can't believe they'd do it again."
During his speech, Durbin urged Democrats, "Do not walk away from Obamacare. Do not apologize for it. It is a move in the right direction for America."
He repeatedly took 13th Congressional District Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, to task for his votes to defund Obamacare.
"He said he wants to repeal Obamacare," Durbin said of Davis. "My friends, we're going through a tough time trying to set up this website. I can't tell where to start to fix it, but some professionals are doing that. They'll fix it. I'm sure they will."
All three of the Democratic candidates seeking to unseat Davis — former Madison County Judge Ann Callis, University of Illinois physics Professor George Gollin and UI social-policy analyst David Green — spoke at the dinner.
Meanwhile, only two Democratic candidates for the 103rd House District seat being given up by state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, spoke. Champaign County Board member Michael Richards announced earlier Sunday that he was dropping out, leaving it to Urbana City Council member Carol Ammons and Champaign attorney Sam Rosenberg.
"I will not be filing as a candidate for state representative," Richards said in a statement released Sunday afternoon. "I would especially like to thank Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing and longtime Democratic county board chairman Pius Weibel for their help circulating my petitions and I would like to thank the precinct committeemen, aldermen and county board members who have been circulating my petitions and working to replace Rep. Jakobsson with a progressive in Springfield."
Richards did not attend the dinner and could not be reached for comment Sunday night.