Rep. Cheri Bustos, D—East Moline, didn’t spend the Fourth of July in Illinois, but with service members from the state during a congressional mission to the Middle East last week.

The Congresswoman discussed the recent mission with reporters during a Wednesday morning press conference.

The trip, led by Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, was highlighted by a Fourth of July visit to Illinois active service members stationed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, said Bustos.

She added that during the visit, she met with a few service members with roots in central Illinois but that the group was largely made up of people from the Chicago area. Each of the 10 representatives — six democrats and four republicans — met with service members from their home state.

Al Udeid , said Bustos, supports air missions in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The delegation also spent time in Israel, where they met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

During the press conference, Bustos said the American delegation showed solidarity with Israel regarding rising tensions with Iran.

“We wanted to make sure that they understood that we stand with them against any hostile actors, especially Iran,” said Bustos. “We know that they are threatening, literally, Israel’s fundamental right to exist.”

In addition to showing support for Israel, Bustos said it was important for the group to meet with Shtayyeh.

“We also need to recognize the need for peace there, and that’s why we also met with the (Shtayyeh) and let them know that we understand the importance of peace in that part of the country,” said Bustos.

She said she believes a two-state solution is the way forward. When asked if their is optimism from people in the region that a solution can be reached, Bustos acknowledged that though she remains optimistic, the region as a whole may not share that sentiment. 

“We have to stay optimistic about that, I don’t think there’s any way we should look at peace in the Middle East without look at a two-state solution,” said Bustos. “Is there optimism from everybody involved? I don’t know that that’s the case.”

The delegation also visited Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, a naval base in Crete, Greece.


Bobby Schilling announces candidacy

Former Illinois 17th Rep. Bobby Schilling announced that he will be seeking election again, this time in Iowa.

According to a Quad-City Times report on Monday, July 8, Schiiling will run in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, something he has been considering for months, according to the report.

Schilling, who represented the 17th Congressional District from 2011 to 2013, lost re-election to Bustos in 2012, and again was defeated by Bustos in 2014.

He now lives in LeClaire, Iowa, a decision that was done in part to escape what Schilling described as heavy taxes and a poor business environment in Illinois, according to the report.

Asked for comment on Schilling’s announcement, Bustos didn’t pull any punches.

“I’ve defeated him twice, and I think he has a third loss coming his way,” she said.

Bustos spoke highly of Schilling’s political opponent Rita Hart, saying she had great respect for the candidate. 

“She’s a mother, she’s a teacher, she’s a farmer. I think she fits that district like hand in glove,” said Bustos.