The Illinois House will reconvene in Springfield starting Jan. 8, for the first time since May and as Speaker Michael Madigan’s continued leadership over the chamber hangs in question.
Madigan’s chief of staff sent a memo to House members Wednesday afternoon telling them to plan for a session similar to the May pandemic-driven special session that looked drastically different from normal.
The return to Springfield ahead of the Jan. 13 inauguration of the next Illinois General Assembly comes as a group of 19 House Democrats have come out and said they won’t support Madigan, who has been speaker since 1983 with the exception of two years in the 1990s, for another term as speaker.
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Madigan needs 60 votes to continue his tenure, and the 19 defections leaves him short, after he was implicated in a federal investigation in which utility Commonwealth Edison agreed to pay a $200 million fine and cooperate with prosecutors for its involvement in a yearslong bribery scheme to gain favor with Madigan by offering jobs and contracts to his allies.
Madigan has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged. His close ally, former lobbyist Michael McClain, pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the investigation.
The only lawmaker to publicly announce a bid to challenge Madigan as speaker is Democratic Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego, but she has not received any significant public support.
Illinois state senators have been asked to hold the dates from Jan. 8 to Jan. 13 open for a possible return to the Capitol.
During the May special session, House members were spread across the convention center floor of the Bank of Springfield Center, seated at individual desks and wearing masks for that four-day session. The Senate, meanwhile, met at the Capitol with limited numbers of people in the Senate chamber at any given time.