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Local congressmen standing firm during government shutdown

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 7:35 a.m. CST

DeKALB – Suzanne Grafe wants to share her opinion with her elected officials in Washington, D.C., but hasn’t been able to get through to one yet.

Grafe, of DeKalb, says she doesn’t associate herself with either political party, and is upset with what she sees as dysfunction among her elected officials.

She’s made multiple calls, but hasn’t been able to speak with any congressman in the wake of the shutdown, she said.

She was able to speak with staffers at the offices of Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., but says she only got recordings with no way to leave a message at the offices of Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield.

“I just thought I’d call and air my opinion, but I can’t even do that,” Grafe said. “It’s ridiculous. I just got a machine.”

Meanwhile, as the partial federal government shutdown drags into its second week, northern Illinois congressmen are giving no indication of an end in sight, and are calling for more debate.

Hultgren represents the 14th District that includes DeKalb, Sycamore and southern DeKalb County. He’s firm in his stance that the Affordable Care Act, as it stands, must be amended, and an agreement on the federal budget and debt ceiling must be reached before measures to reopen the government move forward.

“Many [constituents] have let me know that the health care law, while making some good reforms, has resulted in too much collateral damage already, from businesses cutting back hours and coverage, to individuals losing their doctors and facing higher premiums in anticipation of the full rollout,” Hultgren said in an email. “Several parts of Obamacare must be jettisoned before they reach their full impact on the economy.”

Kinzinger, whose 16th District includes northwest DeKalb County, also has voted for a measure that would fund the federal government but defund the Affordable Care Act, a vote he characterizes as one to keep government operating. Kinzinger said he is concerned about the nation’s fiscal situation.

“I believe we still have an opportunity to take a hard look at the biggest issues facing our country,” Kinzinger said in a written statement. “As Congress debates a continuing resolution and soon raising the debt limit, it is my hope that we can finally have an adult discussion about our nation’s long term fiscal situation that threatens to rob future generations of Americans of opportunity.”

The stalemate continued this week as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called on Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, to allow a vote on a stopgap bill to reopen the government, The Associated Press reported.

However, Boehner continued to insist that negotiations to delay President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act must take place before he would call for any House vote on the issue.

As the shutdown continues, elected officials have become more difficult for the public to reach.

Early Tuesday, staffers were answering the phones at Hultgren’s office in Geneva, but they were replaced in the afternoon by an automated message in which Hultgren said his office was operating with a “skeleton crew.” Andrew Mooney, a legislative assistant for Hultgren, confirmed the staff had been scaled back by furloughs and said the office was doing its best to keep up with incoming phone calls. Mooney said he believes Hultgren had taken some calls from constituents.

At Durbin’s office, a voice message said the office is closed because of the partial government shutdown. An alternative number is given, but only to take messages in case of emergency.

The shutdown also has taken its toll on operations at the White House, where about three out of four staffers have been furloughed, according to The Associated Press.

Both Kinzinger and Hultgren have refused their pay during the shutdown, out of what they say is respect for federal employees and their staffers.

How to contact your representatives

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren

R-14, Winfield

1797 State St., Suite A

Geneva, IL 60134

Phone: 630-232-7104

322 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, D.C., 20515

Phone: 202-225-2976

Website: hultgren.house.gov

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger

R-16, Channahon

628 Columbus St., Suite 507

Ottawa, IL 61350

Phone: 815-431-9271

Washington, D.C., office:

1221 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: 202-225-3635

Website: kinzinger.house.gov

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin

D-Illinois

711 Hart Senate Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Phone: 202-224-2152

Website: www.durbin.senate.gov

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk

R-Illinois

524 Hart Senate Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Phone: 202-224-2854

Website: www.kirk.senate.gov

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