Government Affairs Roundup
“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”
In a remarkable turn of events, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was unseated from his position on Tuesday by a small fraction of House Republicans. This marks the first instance in which the House has voted to remove a sitting Speaker, leading to an impending tumultuous Speaker’s race, reminiscent of the marathon election McCarthy endured in January. The chamber now finds itself navigating unfamiliar waters.
The far-right conservatives who played a pivotal role in McCarthy’s removal had been a persistent source of friction since he assumed the Speakership. They consistently pushed for concessions that weakened his grip on the gavel. During the summer’s debt limit battles, members of the House Freedom Caucus effectively stalled proceedings on the House floor through procedural maneuvers. The breaking point came over the weekend when McCarthy collaborated with Democrats to prevent a government shutdown—a move vehemently opposed by the small group of conservative dissenters.
Arguably, averting a government shutdown over the weekend could be considered an equal turn of events. More on that situation and other news below.
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Federal Government Remains Open
The government did not shut down Sunday, surprising just about everyone. Instead, lawmakers rallied around a 47-day “clean” stopgap measure that did nothing to support Ukraine or deal with the border crisis. Lawmakers entered Saturday morning largely expecting a shutdown.
Saturday featured a game of chicken between the chambers over their competing stopgap bills, a brief evacuation after Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) pulled a fire alarm in the Capitol complex, a 50-minute filibuster by Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to buy Democrats more time to consider McCarthy’s proposal — and threats by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to oust McCarthy from his post if it passed.
President Biden on Saturday night signed a stopgap funding bill, avoiding a government shutdown right before the midnight deadline. The continuing resolution (CR), passed by both the House and Senate by wide margins earlier in the day, will continue funding the government at its current spending levels. It includes $16 billion in disaster relief, but no aid for Ukraine or changes to border policy. Biden signing the bill into law caps a chaotic few weeks in Congress, and a day full of surprises in the Capitol.
The result is that the House and Senate will have to figure out a way to keep the government open again in a little more than a month if they want to prevent a Thanksgiving shutdown. Lawmakers are on the clock if they want to go home and spend the holiday with their families while keeping the government open. November 17 is the Friday before Thanksgiving, and leaders likely decided on that date to put the pressure on their rank and file.
The events over the weekend showed that predictions of an inevitable shutdown were wrong and that congressional leaders and lawmakers are full of surprises. But they also suggest getting a deal in November will be highly difficult. That funding for the border and Ukraine — two incredibly divisive issues — are likely to be in the mix will just make it tougher.
Averting a shutdown has major ramifications for government operations and the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. It ensures military service members are paid, that no federal workers will be furloughed, that food assistance programs will continue uninterrupted, that national parks will remain open and that travel will not be impacted.
Christmas will be just around the corner. Don’t be surprised if Congress punts a new deadline to that holiday in November.
Illinois sending $41.5 million to 6 Chicago-area governments taking in migrants
Governor JB Pritzker announced $41.5 million in awards to local governments in the Chicago region that are welcoming asylum seekers. The funds will make it possible for municipalities to provide direct services to migrants who have fled their homes to escape violence and other threats. The funds will be used for shelter and housing support, food, wraparound services, legal support, and health care.
“Illinois is a welcoming state, and we have stepped up to aid asylum seekers who have undertaken a dangerous and trying journey to try and build a better life for themselves and their families,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Although we will still need significant federal support as this crisis continues, these grants will empower local governments to build out services and supports for new arrivals so we can successfully transition them into our state and give them the opportunity to complete their legal asylum process.”
“In Illinois, we recognize the humanity of everyone and reject fearmongering and cruelty toward those seeking asylum,” said Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton. “Through this funding, our administration is reaffirming our commitment to being a welcoming state because our diversity makes us stronger.”
It has been more than a year since Illinois started to receive buses from Texas governments, transporting migrants from the southern border who are seeking asylum in the United States. Since August 31, 2022, without notice, Illinois has welcomed over 15,000 new arrivals, primarily from Central and South America. To date, the state has contributed $328 million overall to support asylum seekers.
The Illinois General Assembly and Gov. Pritzker appropriated $42,500,000 from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget to provide support to local municipalities for the provision of basic services to new arrivals. To distribute the funds, IDHS is partnering with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC), which provides management oversight in the form of a competitive Notice of Funding Opportunity process. MMC aims to work past geographical boundaries to build collaboration around public policy issues, with a common goal of improving the quality of life for the millions of people who live in the region.
“We were honored to play a role in this process, so that the recipients can receive much needed funding,” said Executive Director of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Neil James. “We understand the importance of providing support services for this vulnerable population.”
Municipalities receiving funding include:
• City of Chicago: $30.25 million
• Joliet Township: $8.6 million
• City of Elgin: $1.27 million
• Lake County: $1 million
• City of Urbana: $250,000
• Village of Oak Park: $150,000
Since the announcement, specifically related to the Joliet Township grant, much confusion and questions have circulated. Joliet Mayor Terry D’Arcy has made a request to Joliet Township Supervisor Angel Contreras to reconsider his application, which seeks to secure $8.6 million in state tax funding from Illinois for Joliet Township.
In a statement released on Monday evening, Mayor D’Arcy clarified the situation, emphasizing the responsibility of elected officials to safeguard the interests of Joliet’s residents, their property investments, and their overall quality of life. D’Arcy further explained that the city’s decision-makers were unaware of the grant request submitted by Joliet Township and its partners and organizations.
The Mayor stressed that neither the City of Joliet Mayor’s Office nor the Joliet Fire Department had endorsed or approved any Memorandum of Understanding related to the grant application submitted by the Township and its partners. He expressed concern that accepting this grant could place significant strain on the city’s existing infrastructure, impacting the Joliet School System, social services, public and private healthcare resources, and public safety.
Since August 2022, Illinois has provided or committed over $328 million in funding to address the humanitarian asylum seeker crisis with direct funding to the City of Chicago, State-operated asylum seeker services, and additional State-supported services.
In addition to direct funding, the State has partnered with municipalities across the state, elected officials, community-based providers, and the federal government to coordinate, develop, and implement the infrastructure and coordination required for comprehensive, responsive, and strategic planning.
This $328 million investment is on top of the State of Illinois’ ongoing programming as a welcoming state for all immigrants and unhoused residents, including Illinois Welcoming Centers; VTTC (Victims of Trafficking Torture & Other Serious Crimes) medical, food and cash assistance; Immigrant Family Resource Program (IFRP); New Americans Initiative (NAI); and Home Illinois, Illinois’ plan to prevent and end homelessness.
Direct Funding to City of Chicago
• $51 million in direct funding from the State to the City of Chicago for general asylum seeker support services
• $19 million passthrough funding from State to City in accessing federal Shelter & Services Program (SSP) appropriation
Direct State Asylum Seeker Support
• ~ $90 million in IEMA emergency support services ($3M Federal and $87M State)
• $51 million in State direct support to asylum seekers
o Hotel Supports (Rooms + Staffing)
• $64 million in comprehensive State-supported services for asylum seekers:
o Asylum Seeker Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ASERAP)
o Move-out Supports (Catholic Charities, New Life)
o Wrap-around Services (ICIRR, Coalition of Immigrant Mental Health (CIMH))
o Food (Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD))
o Legal Services
• $43 million in funding to municipalities to support asylum seekers statewide
• $10 million to stand-up Interim Congregate Housing (ICH) facility on behalf of City of Chicago
As Chicago prepares for an increase in the already steady stream of migrants arriving from the southern U.S. border this week, Governor JB Pritzker is once again publicly pressuring President Joe Biden to play a larger role in coordinating relocation efforts.
“There is much more that can and must be done on a federal level to address a national humanitarian crisis that is currently being shouldered by state and local governments without support,” Pritzker wrote in a three-page letter to the White House on Monday.
Without naming GOP figures like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Pritzker blamed political leaders who “have shipped people to our state like cargo in a dehumanizing attempt to score political points.” But he also faulted the Biden administration for its lack of support for Illinois, which has already dedicated $330 million to addressing the influx of 15,000 migrants and counting.
“Today, Illinois stands mostly unsupported against this enormous strain on our state resources,” Pritzker wrote.
Will County Launches Public Survey on Affordable Fuels
The Will County Executive office is launching the Will County Alternative Fuels Readiness Plan, which will prepare our communities for the growing demand for vehicles powered by alternative fuels from residents, visitors, and businesses. The plan will serve as a roadmap for local governments and businesses as they plan for meeting this demand.
Public input will be critical for the success of this effort. As part of a stakeholder engagement and public involvement strategy, a survey has been launched to collect public input on alternative fuels and electric vehicles. Please share your thoughts by taking the survey at www.willcountyaltfuels.com .
Will County remains a leader in the green economy and clean energies. This plan will be the first countywide alternative fuels readiness plan in the State of Illinois. Strategies developed through this plan will not only help to meet practical immediate needs, such as identifying where charging stations are most needed, but also help make meaningful progress to support the County in maintaining economic competitiveness, improving local air quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from traditional fuel sources, and limiting the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Closures on 1-80 in Joliet over two extended weekends
The Illinois Department of Transportation announced today that deck patching and repairs to the Interstate 80 bridges, between Raynor Avenue and Richards Street, in Joliet, will require ramp and lane closures over two extended weekends beginning, weather permitting, Friday, Oct. 6.
Starting at 10 p.m. Friday, lane closures will take place on westbound I-80, between Raynor Avenue and Richards Street. The ramp from Chicago Street (U.S.52/Illinois 53) to westbound I- 80 also will be closed. During that time, motorists should follow the posted detour to access the expressway. At least one westbound I-80 lane will remain open at all times and eastbound I-80 will not be impacted. Westbound I-80 motorists traveling through the region should consider alternative routes to avoid the area. Local streets are unable to accommodate heavy or wide trucks, so other interstate routes are encouraged. The ramp and all lanes are anticipated to reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 9.
Additionally, the westbound I-80 ramp to Richards Street is closed for reconstruction, with an anticipated reopening late summer 2024. Motorists should follow the posted detour.
An additional extended weekend closure will be required to complete repairs on eastbound I-80. Details and impacts on traffic will be shared in advance, closer to the closure date.
The overall I-80 project will redesign and rebuild 16 miles from Ridge Road, in Minooka, to
U.S. 30, in Joliet and New Lenox, while adding or extending auxiliary lanes to improve safety and reduce congestion. Interchanges will be rebuilt or improved at Interstate 55, Illinois 7, Center Street, Chicago Street, Richards Street and Briggs Street, with a new flyover ramp linking southbound I-55 to eastbound I-80 to improve traffic flow and safety.
More than 30 bridges will be rehabilitated or replaced, including those over the Des Plaines River. The projected $1.3 billion project is anticipated to be substantially complete by the end of 2028, with miscellaneous work and bridge demolition extending into 2029.
For more information visit I80will.org. The mobile-friendly website features project information, photos, and the ability to submit questions and comments to the project team via a “Contact”
link. Find traffic and road conditions at www.gettingaroundlilinois.com. You also can follow
IDOT on Facebook and Twitter.
Illinois Secure Choice Reminder – Zoom Recording and Slides
Don’t forget about the Illinois Secure Choice law deadline coming up at the beginning of November. Illinois state law now requires that every private-sector employer that has been in business for at least 2 years and that had 5 or more Illinois employees last year must offer their own qualified retirement plan or facilitate the Illinois Secure Choice retirement savings program.
In a recent webinar session, the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office covered the specifics of the state law and provided an overview of how Illinois Secure Choice works and how easy it is for businesses to facilitate retirement savings for their employees.
Here is the Zoom link to the recording. Attached are slides covering the program as well.
Executive Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry