The Spin: Heather Steans resigning from Illinois Senate, Madigan moves out of Springfield digs | Illinois GOP, Democrats on Biden’s inauguration tomorrow | Chicago Teachers Union mulls another strike

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Lisa Donovan, Chicago Tribune
·10 min read
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Outgoing Republican President Donald Trump hands off the baton to incoming Commander-in-Chief Joe Biden tomorrow.

Of course it’s not a Team USA relay in our age of bitter partisan politics. Trump plans to leave Washington tomorrow morning before Democrats Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn in about 11 a.m. Chicago time.

In his latest newsletter to constituents, U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, a Peoria Republican, nods to the partisan divide that’s coursing through the U.S. these days. He explains to his voters that he voted against impeaching Trump for constitutional reasons and essentially to move forward.

“(W)e will inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. We should be using this time to bring our nation together, heal the partisan divisions, and move forward with a peaceful transfer of power. As I have listened to constituents on both sides of the political spectrum in recent days, a common frustration and anger are evident among many Americans. In this moment of escalating tensions, Congress must rise above the division and help heal our nation.”

This morning, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, all Chicago Democrats, marked the grand opening of the South Side’s Chatham Education and Workforce Center, a job and skills training center that comes on the scene as elected leaders are being called on to address higher rates of unemployment in the African American community as well as lower wages than their white counterparts.

Biden is taking the reins and vowing to close the racial wealth gap.

And the changing of the guard in Washington happens as the nation marks a grim milestone: 400,000 COVID-19 deaths, The Associated Press reports. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this weekend that Biden’s aggressive COVID-19 vaccination plan was “doable” but it also sounded urgent. He dubbed variants of the virus showing up in South Africa and Brazil as “ominous.”

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After battling President Donald Trump, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot welcomes administration of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said tomorrow’s inauguration of fellow Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris means she now has a pipeline to the White House.

President Trump and his Republican allies have scoffed at the notion of spending federal money to help states and cities meet their budgets, arguing that it would be tantamount to rewarding Democratic-run local governments that have mismanaged funds for years. Lightfoot said she was happy to see Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package including funding for local governments.

Lightfoot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, both in their first term, inherited budget problems from their predecessors that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The city just passed a budget aimed at closing a $1.2 billion budget gap this year amid declining tax revenues while the state anticipates a $3.9 billion deficit before the fiscal year ends on June 30.

“Just having an administration that listens, that reaches out, that recognizes the importance of state and local governments, I don’t know what anybody (else’s experience) has been, but mine has been uniformly positive,” said the mayor, who was known to trade barbs with Trump.

“We need more resources for vaccines — to hire more employees, to build out our infrastructure and we need more vaccine,” she said. “But the Biden administration is a breath of fresh air. I’m excited about tomorrow. I hope everyone will be watching the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and my friend, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”

Chicago City Hall, Cook County and Thompson Center state buildings building closed Wednesday as precaution on inauguration day: “Public officials across the country have been on high alert since an insurrectionist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but officials said they are not aware of any activity planned in Chicago or suburban Cook County,” the Tribune’s Gregory Pratt reports. The state Capitol complex is also closed, state police say.

President-elect Biden arrived in Washington, D.C., this afternoon, ahead of the inauguration. He and Harris are leading a National COVID-19 memorial this evening.

About the same time, President Trump released a videotaped farewell to the nation: He said in part, “As I conclude my term as the 45th President of the United States, I stand before you truly proud of what we have achieved together. We did what we came here to do — and so much more. This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous. We extend our best wishes, and we also want them to have luck — a very important word.” Read his remarks here.

Treasury nominee Yellen says COVID-19 aid to jobless, small firms ‘biggest bang’ for buck, Bloomberg reports.

Are Republicans headed for a pro-Trump, anti-Trump civil war? ‘Hell yes, we are,’ Kinzinger tells The New York Times: Read the story here.

Joe Ricketts, conservative Cubs family patriarch who closed DNAinfo after union vote, to launch Omaha-based ‘unbiased’ news site — Read the story here.

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What to expect at the Biden-Harris inauguration

HuffPost’s Washington bureau chief, Amanda Terkel, tweeted that Joe Biden’s inauguration speech is expected to focus on unity and last 20 to 30 minutes.

CBS political correspondent Ed O’Keefe cautions: “Aides are sharing little specific in advance, knowing from experience that the former vice president is likely to continue reworking his remarks up until shortly before the big moment.” But O’Keefe notes that the Biden will likely riff not only on themes of unity, he will “attempt to buck-up a country withering from a pandemic, a reckoning on race relations and the violence that played out in the same spot from which the new president will speak.” Read more here.

12 Army National Guard members with militia ties removed from Biden inauguration security, officials say: Read The Associated Press story here.

Emanuel on getting down to business: Even though Democrats will control the executive and legislative branches of federal government after tomorrow, Biden needs a powerful Republican ally to get past the partisan divide. That’s what former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served two Democratic presidents, was mentioned as possible cabinet pick in the Biden administration and rarely misses a chance to respond to reporters from national media outlets, told The New York Times.

Durbin, Schneider take another chance on bipartisan Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act after Capitol attack

Nearly two weeks after the riot that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol grounds, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, both Illinois Democrats, say they’re reintroducing the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act. The measure passed the House last year, but stalled in the Senate.

The measure calls for establishing offices within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that will coordinate to monitor and investigate cases of domestic terrorism. During a virtual news conference Tuesday, Durbin said the U.S. government tightened restrictions after 9-11 and it’s time that federal law enforcement focus on acts of terrorism at home, pointing to the insurrection carried out by Trump supporters at the Capitol as Congress voted to certify the election results.

“If you’re looking for terrorism, you don’t have to look across the ocean. You have to look across the street. January 6 — two week ago, we (had) thousands descending on the United States Capitol in Washington DC,” Durbin, of Springfield, said. “You can still see the marks of their terrorist attack today. To walk past the boarded up windows, broken furniture, cracked doors, it’s hard believing that these violent images were caused by Americans on their own Capitol building. They were incited by the president of the United States — a mob of domestic terrorists stormed into this Capitol. They overwhelmed the police, came within mere seconds of reaching the vice president of the United States and members of Congress. They waved Confederate, Nazi flags in the sanctuary of democracy. They shouted, “where’s Nancy?” “hang the vice president” in a frenzied search for the speaker of the House and Vice President Pence. They carried zip ties, or tactical gear. They were prepared for a gruesome and violent siege.”

Republican sponsors include U.S. Reps. Don Bacon of Nebraska and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

Asked about Democrats and Republicans coming together at a time of deep partisan division, Schneider, of Deerfield, said: “The election showed we’re a divided nation in many ways, but there are still people who are willing to reach across the aisle both ways to work together and to address the challenges we face as a nation.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell blames Trump, others in power for provoking Capitol riot: ‘The mob was fed lies’ - Read the Associated Press story here.

Chicago Teachers Union delegates could set a strike vote this week as potential impasse looms over schools reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic

From the Tribune’s Hannah Leone: “The Chicago Teachers Union’s governing body is expected to convene Wednesday and could send a vote to members as soon as Thursday to strike or take other collective action as early as next week, several sources told the Tribune.”

As the Sun-Times’ Nader Issa writes, this would be the union’s “second strike in as many school years as thousands of teachers and staff continue to protest orders to return to schools they don’t believe are safe in a pandemic.” Read the Tribune story here and the Sun-Times piece here.

More city news - Chicago entering next phase of Illinois’ COVID-19 vaccine program on Monday as officials predict indoor dining could begin within days, the Tribune’s Gregory Pratt and Alice Yin report.

Rush, Lightfoot OK with suspensions for cops accused of lounging in congressman’s office during looting, the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports.

Anjanette Young rallies against Chicago police misconduct following raid on her home: ‘Enough is enough’ — The Tribune’s Gregory Pratt has the details here.

Democrat Heather Steans resigns from state Senate, making way for Cassidy?

From the Tribune’s Dan Petrella: “State Sen. Heather Steans, a veteran North Side Democrat who was one of the driving forces behind legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois last year, is resigning, effective Jan. 31.” Read the full story here.

Succession: Democratic committeepeople in the lakefront 7th Senate District, which stretches from the North Center neighborhood north into Evanston, will select Stean’s replacement to serve out her term. All state House and Senate seats are on the ballot in 2022 after the upcoming legislative redistricting, based on the results of last year’s census.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy,a Rogers Park Democrat, will seek the post. As 49th Ward committeewoman, Cassidy controls about 22% of the weighted vote in choosing Stean’s successor, Petrella notes. That’s based on the number of ballots cast in the November election for Steans, who ran unopposed. The largest share, 27% of the weighted vote, is held by 48th Ward Ald. Harry Osterman, who also serves as the ward’s Democratic committeeman.

Steans, 57, is the daughter of prominent banker and philanthropist Harrison Steans, who died in 2019.

Related: Madigan vacates Springfield apartment, fueling speculation about resigning from Illinois House. Story via the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

Related: New state House Speaker Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch made commitments for reform to force out Madigan. Can he keep them? The Tribune’s Rick Pearson has the story here.

Thanks for reading The Spin, the Tribune’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox weekday afternoons. Have a tip? Email host Lisa Donovan at ldonovan@chicagotribune.com.

Twitter @byldonovan