Durbin's Lead On Iran Deal Sparks Rumors: What's Next For Illinois' Senior U.S. Senator?

Sep 15, 2015
Originally published on September 14, 2015 7:55 pm

Illinois' junior, Republican Senator Mark Kirk -- opposes the nuclear deal with Iran. But the state's senior U.S. Senator Democrat Dick Durbin, has been key in sheparding it through Congress. That's provided grist for the D.C. rumor mill.

Durbin is the Senate Democrats' No. 2, what's known as the minority whip. A job at which Durbin excelled when it came to the nuclear agreement. The fight over the nuclear deal is for all practical purposes over, after Democrats in D-C successfully blocked Republicans from voting to disapprove of it. A Washington Post article is headlined "How Sen. Durbin spent his summer saving the Iran deal."

But when Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid retires next year, it won't be Durbin who takes his place; Reid threw his support to New York's Chuck Schumer -- who's against the deal. Durbin has also endorsed Schumer.

Now, the rumor: will Durbin's success parlay to the top leadership post?

When asked, Durbin didn't hesitate to say no.

"I'm just going to keep doing my job," he said. "First for Illinois, and secondly where I can help to resolve some of these national and international issues. That's what I do and I've done it for ten years, working with my caucus. In this case it worked out well -- I worked all through the month of August to deal with my colleagues on this issue. But no, it hasn't changed my plans. I'm still looking forward to living in Springfield, in Illinois commuting every weekend, as I have for quite a few years."

Durbin's work could, however, help him fend off a possible challenge as Schumer's second in command.

Last week, Durbin achieved a state record. He's now the Illinois' longest-serving, popularly elected Senator. Should he chose to run for the post again, Durbin is next up for re-election in 2020.

Senator Kirk is expected to have a tough race next year as he seeks to hold onto his seat.

Durbin says the Iran goal has two goals: to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, and to prevent another war.

"We're going to be watching the Iranians closely. They can't be trusted," he said Monday. "But basically what we're doing is following Ronald Reagan, who said 'trust but verify.' We'll have inspectors on the ground; if they cheat we'll catch them and impose the sanctions again."

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