BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Two Illinois congressman visited the Bloomington Country Club Thursday to address work being done in Washington.
Representatives Darin LaHood and Rodney Davis presented an update to the McLean County Chamber of Commerce and gave their perspective on various topics affecting businesses including COVID-19 mitigations, the Afghanistan crisis, and Rivian’s continued investment in the Twin Cities.
In August, Governor J.B. Pritzker mandated all pre-K through 12th-grade schools would be required to wear masks indoors and required all staff to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Rep. Darin LaHood and Rep. Rodney Davis said this kind of decision should be made at a local level.
“The best decisions always come from the local level, and I think we need to look at COVID as more of a risk management issue versus a zero-tolerance issue. It’s out into the world, and we have to learn to live with it. Look at the statistics and the data. Look at survivability rate and let’s manage this risk,” Davis said.
“Put the private sector aside, I think at a local level, at a school board level, those decisions ought to be made at a local level on whether there should be mandates on those things,” LaHood said. “I proudly got the vaccine, all my children got the vaccine, my wife did, and I promoted it. But there are others who don’t agree with that, and that’s their choice to make.”
In a statement, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos supported the Governor’s recent decisions.
“With the Delta variant spreading in Illinois communities, Congresswoman Bustos agrees with the Governor that the state must take heightened steps to keep our children and families healthy. She also encourages residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” the statement read.
On the topic of Afghanistan, Davis and LaHood slammed President Biden and his administration. LaHood called on the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, and U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to resign.
“I think it’s an epic failure of leadership on what [President] Biden and his team did in Afghanistan,” LaHood said. “To me, it seemed like a surrender to the Taliban, and we just worked out the terms of the surrender.”
LaHood said that included leaving the Taliban $85 billion in U.S. military weapons, aircraft, and uniforms. He also said the Taliban will be held accountable for the suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. Marines.
“There will be a day of reckoning and people will be held accountable, and I hope we don’t lose any more lives,” LaHood said. “The Taliban are going to rub it in our noses on Sept. 11. I hate to say that, but they’re going to make this an issue [of,] ‘You kicked us out 20 years ago, we’re right back here now.'”
Davis agreed with LaHood and said there is a lack of leadership from President Biden.
“The execution of this plan will go down in American history as one of the worst presidential decisions ever made,” Davis said. “And unfortunately, I believe it’s going to cost more American lives before it gets in place, and that is a sad testament.”
Rivian’s Normal plant now employs more than 2,000 people in Central Illinois, and it’s a number that is expected to keep growing.
LaHood and Davis said Rivian is a great success story for McLean County, Bloomington-Normal, and Central Illinois.
“You look at the ancillary businesses that are coming in because of that and look at the potential growth, the sky’s the limit and that is complemented by private sector dollars that have been spent,” LaHood said.
“We need to get people back to work and we have to let them know that working in auto manufacturing today is much different than 30-40 years ago,” Davis said.