As a budget battle looms in the nation's capital, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) focused his remarks on the federal deficit and spending during a town hall forum in Frankfort on Saturday.
Kirk took questions from attendees who filled an elementary school gym looking for the opportunity to hear and question their senator.
“I don’t want you to walk out of here feeling completely bad about the future of the United States,” Kirk said, before launching into a discussion on growing federal spending.
The event was supposed to feature freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-11th). An early-morning budget vote prevented Kinzinger from attending in person, but he made remarks via videoconference.
Kinzinger echoed Kirk’s belief that Congress should cut spending in a meaningful way.
“The next couple of years are going to be tough, but we have to do it,” Kinzinger said.
Kinzinger reiterated a belief that supporting business is the only way to create jobs.
“I have a fundamental belief that the federal government cannot create jobs,” Kinzinger said.
Questions posed to Kirk ranged from Afghanistan and environmental regulations, to healthcare policy and legislative philosophy.
Several questions focused on the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to increase emissions regulations. Kirk, who was one of only eight Republicans to vote in favor of a 2009 climate change bill, said he has since changed positions and would vote against it as a senator.
Both Kinzinger and Kirk reiterated a desire to work in a bipartisan manner. Kinzinger cited the recent debate over the President Obama’s proposed budget in the House as an example.
“Even though we are down there arguing passionately, we get along personally,” Kinzinger said.
The audience appeared to trend Republican, although a few participants were met with boos when mentioning Planned Parenthood or teachers’ unions. Kirk moved to temper the objections, repeating the phrase “mutual respect.”
Jim Hardy, a resident of Frankfort Square, attended the town hall with his granddaughter, who recently voted in her first election.
“I have gone to many of these rallies,” Hardy said. “Democracy in action is the most important thing.”
Don Hagemaster, of Frankfort, brought his 7-year-old and 5-year-old.
“It is our way of showing them the importance of being involved in the process,” Hagemaster said.