<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Political News and Chicago Politics]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usSun, 29 May 2016 16:09:33 -0500Sun, 29 May 2016 16:09:33 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Sanders Warns Clinton on Running Mate Pick ]]> Sun, 29 May 2016 09:40:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/split2-clinton-sanders.jpg

Vermont Bernie Sanders warned democratic rival Hillary Clinton that her pick for running mate will be critical to winning over his supporters going into the general election.

During an interview to air Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sanders said told Chuck Todd that Clinton needs "a candidate who can excite working families, excite young people, bring them into the political process and create a large voter turnout."

Asked whether Virginia senator Tim Kaine, who's rumored to be on Clinton's short list, is the kind of running mate he's recommending, Sanders said, "I really like him very much," but declined any further speculation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Illinois Medical Marijuana Pilot Program Extended to 2020]]> Fri, 27 May 2016 17:14:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/91997111-marijuana-generic.jpg

Rep. Lou Lang announced an agreement with Gov. Bruce Rauner Friday to extend the state’s medical marijuana pilot program to 2020.

"Governor Rauner and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin deserve credit for their willingness and commitment to reform and extend Illinois' medical marijuana program,” Lang said in a statement. “I want to thank them for their cooperation to find a bi-partisan legislative compromise on improving a program designed to ease the pain and suffering of seriously ill individuals, including children."

A variety of changes were made to the program.

Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and terminal illnesses were added to the list of qualifying medical conditions that can be treated as part of the program.

Patient and caregiver ID cards will now be valid for three years, instead of one. Fingerprinting will also not be required to renew those cards.

Under the new agreement, doctors will no longer be required to recommend cannabis. Instead, they will certify their relationship with a patient and confirm a qualifying condition.

Minors who are part of the program will also be allowed two caregivers under the new plan.

The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board will also be reconstituted. Additionally, a new procedure will be created to accept patient petitions for new conditions to be added to the program.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Lawmakers Return to Springfield Sunday for Budget Hearings]]> Fri, 27 May 2016 17:13:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/madigan+and+rauner.jpg

Illinois lawmakers will return to Springfield Sunday to hash out a potential budget plan with the deadline to make a deal coming at the end of the month.

The General Assembly will also be in session on Memorial Day. The deadline for the legislature to pass a budget with a simple majority is Tuesday.

House Democrats, led by Speaker Mike Madigan, pushed through an out-of-balance budget plan Wednesday. The bill will now be sent to the Illinois Senate. Gov. Bruce Rauner has made it clear that he plans to veto the measure.

Meanwhile Rauner continued to push for a bipartisan, balanced budget.

"I ask the rank and file members, the Democrats and Republicans in the legislature, do the right thing: stand up for your people in your district and your people in the entire state of Illinois,” Rauner said during a press conference. “Get a balanced budget, a truly balanced budget and get reforms to grow our economy and protect property taxpayers from the brutal burden on them.”

Madigan also said he was open to budget negotiations.

“We’re prepared to negotiate with the governor, find the revenue to pay for the spending plan,” Madigan said during a Friday press conference. “My first choice is raise taxes on the wealthy.”

The state’s budget impasse dates back to July of last year and has largely hinged on a battle between Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature over the governor’s pro-business, union-weakening Turnaround Agenda.

The stalemate has adversely affected state funding for health and social service groups, as well as the state’s public colleges and universities.

<![CDATA[GOP Attack Ads Target House Dems Who Voted for Madigan Budget]]> Fri, 27 May 2016 13:46:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mike+madigan+serious.jpg

A Republican political committee has released a stream of online attack ads focused on Illinois House Democrats running for re-election who voted in favor of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s recent budget proposal.

“Over the past two days, House Democrats have decided to put their allegiance to Mike Madigan over the financial health of Illinois, voting twice for a disastrous budget that would create a $7 billion deficit and necessitate a $1,000 tax hike on Illinois families,” an Illinois Republican Party press release reads. “This is a clear signal that they would rather jump off the fiscal cliff than stand up to Mike Madigan.”

The campaign, launched by the House Republican Organization, consists of robocalls in seven districts and digital ads specifically targeting candidates seeking reelection in November.

The ads target a group of Illinois House Democrats, including Rep. Andy Skoog, Rep. Brandon Phelps, Rep. Dan Beiser, Rep. John Bradley, Rep. Kate Cloonen, Rep. Michelle Mossman, Rep. Sam Yingling.

House Democrats, led by Speaker Mike Madigan, pushed through an out-of-balance budget proposal Wednesday that would give extra aid to beleaguered school districts, like Chicago Public Schools.

The bill will now be sent to the Illinois Senate. Republicans claim the budget plan, which excludes any element of Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, is out of balance by about $7 billion. The governor’s office has said Rauner plans to veto the measure.

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Sanders to Hold Rally in SoCal]]> Fri, 27 May 2016 15:46:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-533816796.jpg

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders rallied in San Pedro Friday on the sixth day of his Southland campaign ahead of California's June 7 primary election.

"I tell you it is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics,'' Sanders told the union-dominated crowd of about 1,000 people at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. "We need a political revolution.''  

Sanders used the speech to again criticize presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and criticize corporate greed.

"A moral economy is not an economy where CEOs make tens of millions of dollars a year, ship our jobs abroad and take away health care from their workers,'' he said. He added later, "Our ideas are the future of this country. Let's stand up. Let's fight for them."

Sanders was also scheduled to be interviewed on the HBO talk show "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Friday.

The 74-year-old Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who would be the nation's first Jewish president, spoke at a rally Thursday at Ganesha High School in Pomona and appeared on the ABC late-night talk show "Jimmy Kimmel Live.''

Sanders' opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was in Oakland Friday in what her campaign describes as "a community discussion on breaking barriers and increasing opportunity.''

Following last week's Kentucky and Oregon primaries, Sanders holds 1,539 delegates, trailing behind front-runner Hillary Clinton, who is only 78 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to win the nomination.

City News Service contributed to this report. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner: 'Let’s Get Reforms, Let’s Get a Truly Balanced Budget']]> Fri, 27 May 2016 12:04:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rauner+flag.jpg

Amid the state’s ongoing budget battle, Gov. Bruce Rauner continued to push for reforms and a bipartisan budget solution during a brief press conference Friday.

“Let’s be honest with the people of Illinois, let’s get reforms, let’s get a truly balanced budget,” the governor said. “And I ask the rank and file members, the Democrats and Republicans in the legislature, do the right thing: stand up for your people in your district and your people in the entire state of Illinois.”

“Get a balanced budget, a truly balanced budget and get reforms to grow our economy and protect property taxpayers from the brutal burden on them. Do the right thing,” Rauner added.

This comes in the wake of Illinois Democrats pushing through a budget proposal Wednesday that Rauner’s office says is about $7 billion out of balance. The plan includes increased funding for beleaguered school districts, like Chicago Public Schools.

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin called the plan “an absolute joke.”

The state’s budget impasse dates back to July of last year and has largely hinged on a battle between Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature over the governor’s pro-business, union-weakening Turnaround Agenda. The stalemate has adversely affected state funding for health and social service groups, as well as the state’s public colleges and universities.

The deadline for the General Assembly to pass a budget with a simple majority comes at the end of the month. With no real compromise in sight, it seems the stalemate could reach into the next fiscal year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump to Rubio on Senate Re-Election: 'Run Marco!']]> Fri, 27 May 2016 12:31:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/split2-trump-rubio.jpg

Donald Trump is encouraging "Little Marco" to run for re-election in Florida. 

After weeks of aggressive attacks and name calling during the GOP primary, Trump and Marco Rubio have called a truce, of sorts, NBC News reported. 

Rubio recently came to Trump's defense on Twitter, saying the protesters at Trump's rallies are "professional" and not violent, as he claims the media puts it. And now, Trump, who once said Rubio couldn't get elected "dogcatcher" in Florida and called him "Little Marco," is urging his former rival to keep his Senate seat.

"Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida. Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!" Trump tweeted. 

On CNN Thursday afternoon, Rubio said he wants "to be helpful" to the GOP presumptive nominee and will release his delegates to vote for Trump. Rubio also said he would be willing to speak on Trump's behalf. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Death Fell From the Sky': Obama at Hiroshima]]> Fri, 27 May 2016 06:22:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_16148362560935.jpg

Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site of the Hiroshima atomic bombing on Friday, using the moment to call for a world without nuclear weapons, NBC News reported.

Some 140,000 people were killed when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city on Aug. 6, 1945.

Obama spent a short time at the Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial Museum and then placed a wreath at the arched monument at the memorial park.

Obama reflected on the day "death fell from the sky and the world was changed," telling a gathering of survivors and officials that a "wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself."

Obama did not apologize for the U.S. actions and instead paid tribute to "all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war," saying that "their souls speak to us" and "mere words cannot give voice to such suffering."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[USSS Employees Disciplined for Violating Congressman's Privacy]]> Thu, 26 May 2016 18:51:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_784902619993.jpg

More than 40 Secret Service employees were disciplined for improperly accessing information about Rep. Jason Chaffetz last year, NBC News reported. 

One employee resigned, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Thursday. Other punishments ranged from letters placed in personnel files to 45-day suspensions without pay. None of the disciplined employees were identified due to federal privacy laws.

The Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security apologized to Chaffetz, R-Utah, who led numerous inquiries into alleged misconduct by the agency. 

Chaffetz tried, unsuccessfully, to join the Secret Service in 2003. A report found that the 41 Secret Service employees accessed his job application more than 60 times, even though there was no need for inquiries.

Johnson said he was "appalled by the episode," which he said "brought real discredit to the Secret Service."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Judge Blocks Release of Video, Audio of Mills in Clinton Deposition]]> Thu, 26 May 2016 18:50:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CherylMills-AP_16141516465226.jpg

A federal judge granted a request Thursday to block the release of video from an upcoming deposition of Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff at the State Department, NBC News reported. 

Cheryl Mills is scheduled to be deposed Friday by lawyers for conservative group Judicial Watch. The group is inquiring into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State. 

Mills’ lawyer said Wednesday that the former staffer had no objection to transcripts, but she was concerned that parts of video could be taken out of context by political groups. They asked that video or audio be withheld.

"The public has a right to know details related to the creation, purpose and use of the clintonemail.com system. Thus, the transcripts of all depositions taken in this case will be publicly available," U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan wrote in an order. 

Federal rules authorize a court to protect a people involved in a case "from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue burden or expense," the judge said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[House Democrats Pass Budget Bill, Rauner Plans Veto]]> Thu, 26 May 2016 18:29:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rauner-AP_745939433751.jpg

Illinois House Democrats pushed through a budget proposal Wednesday that looks to give extra aid to Chicago Public Schools, but the governor has threatened to veto the measure, further prolonging the nearly 11-month impasse. 

The bill, which covers fiscal year 2017, passed the House 63-53 in the midst of a raucous debate Wednesday evening. The bill will now be sent to the Illinois Senate.

The governor's office said Rauner planned to veto the measure before it was even brought for a vote Wednesday.

Republicans claim the budget plan, which excludes any element of Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, is out of balance by about $7 billion.

“This is a slap in the face to the hardworking men and women who’ve been working on this, but also, more importantly, a slap in the face to every Illinoisan who wants honest government,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said during a press conference Wednesday. “As an Illinoisan, as a taxpayer and also as a member of the legislature, I am deeply embarrassed.”

“I guess I want to be angry, but this is an absolute joke,” Durkin added.

Under Speaker Mike Madigan’s proposal, schools would receive a $700 million equity grant to help CPS and other high poverty districts. All told, CPS would receive roughly $287 million, as well as $100 million for pension payments.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded favorably to the news Wednesday.

"While we recognize that we are far from solving all of the challenges at CPS, we see today’s actions as an important first step and look forward to working closely with Chicago legislators to minimize the impacts of the budget crisis in the classroom and to our CPS students,” Emanuel said in a statement.

The plan also calls for $13.5 billion from the state's general revenue fund, which comes from tax money. While operating without a budget over the course of the year, Illinois has relied on court orders and consent decrees for funding.

Under the plan, early childhood programs would get $75 million more in funding, while an additional $4.6 billion would be spent on social service agencies dedicated to aiding the poor and elderly. 

Illinois has been without a budget since July of last year. The impasse has largely hinged on a battle between Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature over the governor’s pro-business, union-weakening Turnaround Agenda.

The deadline for the General Assembly to pass a budget with a simple majority is at the end of the month. With no real compromise in sight, it seems the stalemate will continue to linger on.

“I am, of course, always hopeful that there still is time for us to work cooperatively, but I don’t think we can afford to count on compromise,” Rep Barbara Flynn Currie said during a Wednesday press conference. “It didn’t work in the current fiscal year and there’s no guarantee that it will in the next.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Looks to RNC for Ground Game]]> Thu, 26 May 2016 18:27:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DonaldTrump-AP_16147730321347.jpg

Donald Trump said he believes the Republican National Committee will help him in his ground game and his plans to turn 15 blue states red, NBC News reported. 

"As far as building the infrastructure for campaign, the RNC has been doing it for many years, Reince [Priebus, the RNC chairman] has really upped it, all over the country, and part of the benefit is that we get to use those people," Trump said Thursday, noting they were staffing themselves but suggesting that the RNC could build a ground game better than he could in just a few months. 

The RNC has historically helped in the campaigns of presidential candidates, but they’re also helping Senate and House elections as well. So could the RNC do the majority of planning for Trump’s ground game? 

"No," former RNC Chairman Michael Steele said. "Those duties and responsibilities have to be split." 

Trump’s staff told The Associated Press that teams are being sent into 15 states by the end of May. While a Trump campaign source who spoke to NBC News on the condition of anonymity said that plan is “non-existent,” Trump’s spokesperson declined to discuss staffing or offer any information about new hires.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Plan to Bar Yoga Teacher Training Heads to Rauner's Desk]]> Thu, 26 May 2016 12:47:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Yoga+2.png

A measure that prohibits new state regulations for yoga teachers will be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk Thursday to be signed into law.

The bill would exempt yoga instruction and yoga teacher training from state oversight as a trade, occupation, vocation or professional school.

The measure, which is sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Daniel Burke, received bipartisan backing in the Illinois legislature in recent month. Supporters call it a pro-business move that cuts into unneeded government regulation.

“There’s simply no reason for Illinois to regulate something that, for most people, is a personal pursuit, not a profession or a career,” Harmon said in a statement. “It makes no sense from a business standpoint, from a government standpoint or from a practical standpoint.”

According to a release provided by Harmon’s office, some yoga teacher training programs received notifications this year from the Illinois Board of Higher Education informing them that they would be subject to state regulation as vocational schools and that they would need IBHE approval to operate in Illinois.

The measure passed unanimously in the Illinois Senate in April. It passed unanimously in the Illinois House of Representatives Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Reaches the Magic Number to Clinch Nomination]]> Thu, 26 May 2016 19:22:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Trump-GettyImages-533099798.jpg

Donald Trump on Thursday secured the number of GOP delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, NBC News has confirmed.  

Trump passed the 1,237 mark after unbound delegates from North Dakota pledged their support for him. NBC News declared Trump to be the presumptive Republican nominee after his GOP rivals dropped out of the race in early May.

There are still 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7. Trump will not officially become the nominee until he accepts the nomination at the Republican convention in Cleveland in July.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[CPS Leaders Head to Springfield to Fight for Funding]]> Thu, 26 May 2016 13:00:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/KK_AP_46152099546.jpg

Chicago Public Schools will take its plea for funding to the governor's front door Thursday as the district faces drastic cuts without help from Springfield. 

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson join pastors, parents, students on a bus trip to Springfield for rally for fair education funding. 

They'll board buses here at Westinghouse College Prep in East Garfield Park, as well as several other locations throughout the city. 

CPS officials say they will be forced to cut budgets from already cash-strapped schools by up to 30 percent if additional funding doesn't come through. That could lead to much larger class sizes and massive cuts to special education and extracurricular programs. 

This comes after hundreds of CPS parents marched through the loop Wednesday demanding funding to save their children's schools. The rally began with a so-called “Billion Dollar Bake Sale” at the Thompson Center Wednesday, where they sold items such as “misfortune cookies,” “coming-up shortbread” and “seven-layoff cake” following threats from Cps. 

They're calling on lawmakers in Springfield and Gov. Bruce Rauner to increase funding for CPS before Tuesday's budget deadline.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Obama: Trump Candidacy Has 'Rattled' World Leaders]]> Thu, 26 May 2016 06:35:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/OBAMA_AP_16147347596862.jpg

President Barack Obama said world leaders are "rattled" by Donald Trump and have a good reason to feel that way, NBC News reported. 

Speaking at a news conference while at the G7 meeting in Japan, Obama said the American presidential election is being "very" closely watched abroad. He told reporters that "it's fair to say" world leaders are "surprised" Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee.

"They are not sure how seriously to take some of this pronouncements but they're rattled by him — and for good reason, because a lot of the proposals that he's made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude," Obama added.

The president also suggested Trump's controversial proposals were more about "getting tweets and headlines" than "actually thinking through" what's needed to keep America safe or the "world on an even keel."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[No 'Decision' or 'Timeline' Yet on Trump Endorsement: Ryan]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 13:30:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/PaulRyan-AP_16140578310835.jpg

House Speaker Paul Ryan has not yet decided whether to endorse presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, NBC News reported.

"I haven't made a decision," Ryan told reporters in an off-camera briefing Wednesday. "I don't have a timeline in my mind." 

A spokesperson for Ryan shot down accounts that an endorsement was imminent.

Ryan announced earlier this month he was “not ready” to endorse the party’s presumptive nominee. But he says his team is working closely with Trump’s campaign, saying the two staffs meet “virtually every day.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Could Dick Durbin Run for Governor in 2018?]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 13:56:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP232834530121.jpg

Rumors have cropped up in the past few weeks regarding Sen. Dick Durbin’s potential run for Illinois Governor in 2018, although the senator has called the claims “a waste of time and breath.”

During a Monday appearance on Chicago Tonight, Durbin said he was satisfied in his current role as senator.

“I have a great job to be the senior senator from this state, to be in Washington and help this state in different ways, and I have no other aspirations for any other office,” Durbin said. “And I would beg the people who are doing the speculation right now to cool it.”

“Let’s focus on the immediate need to get a state budget. Let’s not start talking about an election that’s removed from the one that’s coming up in November,” the senator added.

Rumors began to swirl last week as a handful of unnamed sources speculated about Durbin’s run for governor.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has faced a tough first term since taking office in January 2015. The state has faced a lingering budget stalemate that hinges on the governor’s pro-business, union-weakening Turnaround Agenda. Negotiations remain at a critical point as the deadline looms for legislators to pass a state budget next week.

With the embattled governor likely to run as the incumbent on the Republican ticket in 2018, attention has shifted to potential Democratic candidates. The speculated list includes, among others, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, State Treasurer Michael Frerichs and former Gov. Pat Quinn, according to the Sun-Times.

When pressed on the issue Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to give specifics but stood behind Durbin’s work as a senator.

“He’s been a great senator in helping bring resources back to Chicago on public transportation, on airports, on our parks and our all efforts,” Emanuel said during a press conference kicking off the summer season of Night Out in the Parks. “I’m not sure why you’re asking that except that he has time left of his tenure, but he has been a great advocate and a great public servant whether it was in congress and in the United State Senate.”

Durbin's administration did not immediately respond to Ward Room's request for comment on this story.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton Calls Trump a 'Bully' Who Threatens Economy]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 16:36:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Clinton5232332734.jpg

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in a speech to union workers in Detroit on Monday, railed against Republican Donald Trump on everything from wages and immigration to paid family leave.

"He could bankrupt America like he's bankrupted his companies," Clinton warned during remarks at the Service Employees International Union's annual convention. "Ask yourself: how could anybody lose money running a casino? Really."

Clinton also unleashed on the presumptive Republican nominee for his charged rhetoric, NBC News reported.

"We need a president who will use the bully pulpit to stand up for working families. But the last thing we need is a bully in the pulpit," Clinton said to big applause.

Clinton said Trump's plan to deport more than 11 million undocumented immigrants would not only affect union families, but also the many Latinos she's met across the country who are concerned about what a Trump presidency could mean for them.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Hits Highest Job Approval Since 2013: Poll]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 17:45:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-533205868.jpg

President Barack Obama enjoys the highest approval from Americans since his second term began, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows.

Fifty-one percent of registered voters say they approve of the job Obama is doing as president, compared to 46 percent who disapprove. Obama's approval rating remains dismal with self-described Republicans, who disapprove of his performance by an 88 percent to eight percent margin.

But Americans haven't always been so pleased with him. His approval rating sunk as low as 40 percent before the 2014 midterm elections but subsequently rebounded, particularly since primary voting in the 2016 presidential race got underway at the beginning of this year.

The president's relative political strength could be a significant boon for Hillary Clinton, whose 2016 candidacy is largely focused on preserving key aspects of his Democratic policy-making.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Gore: Trump's Climate Change Stance Is Concerning]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 08:53:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-519674944.jpg

Former vice president and climate change activist Al Gore is concerned that a potential Donald Trump presidency could roll back progress in the fight against climate change.  

"He has said some things on the climate crisis that I think should concern everyone,'' Gore said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show. 

Trump has called climate change a hoax created by China.

In the Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," Gore used charts and graphs to make the connection between increasing carbon emissions and the changing climate.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the film's release on Tuesday, Paramount is offering free downloads of it on Amazon, XFINITY on demand, iTunes and other digital retailers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Deadline Nears for Lawmakers to Pass State Budget]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 20:58:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/198*120/84470699.jpg

The clock is ticking in Springfield as state lawmakers only have until the end of the month to pass a budget for this fiscal year.

The deadline for the General Assembly to pass a budget with a simple majority is a week from Tuesday.

The Democratic-controlled General Assembly and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner have gone nearly a year without agreeing on a spending plan. The stalemate has hinged on a battle over the governor’s pro-business, union-weakening Turnaround Agenda.

If a budget deal is not hammered out by the end-of-session May 31 budget deadline, the process will become much more difficult. A three-fifths majority vote will be needed in the House and Senate.

While Rauner said he’s not giving up hope that a budget will be passed, many say it likely won’t due to this year being an election year.

Last month, Rauner said his staff was looking into the possibility of him picking up the tab for additional special sessions.

“If we have to go into special sessions, we’ll deal with that at the time,” Rauner said. “I don’t want taxpayers to be charged for it. I would seriously consider, we’re discussing this within our administration, me paying for it personally, so the taxpayers don’t have to if special sessions have to be called.”

From Springfield, the Republican leadership still sounds optimistic that a “grand compromise” can be reached.

Among Rauner’s priorities in a balanced budget is workers compensation. Illinois’ rate is much higher than surrounding states.

“We can’t just only move a little,” Rauner said. “We don’t have to be like Indiana and be the lowest workers comp cost. We have harder working people, better location, better resources, but we’ve got to be more average.”

The tug of war between the Republican governor and the Democratic majority legislature has left the state at an impasse for several months.

“I am determined that we are going to work this out,” said State Rep. Mary Flowers. “Before May 31st? It may not be before May 31st. It may not be. We’ve given the schools a partial budget. It’s not all that it can be and we need to do better.”

State lawmakers must also consider how to fund schools.

Chicago principals are being told to plan for budget cuts potentially reaching up to 30 percent.

“It will mean much higher class sizes,” said D’Andre Weaver, principal at Gwendolyn Brooks school. “We’re trying to find an equitable way to share that hurt amongst our departments. It could be class sizes as high as 38, 39 kids in a high school class across the board and that’s just unfair.”

Later this week, both CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and the Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey will travel to Springfield to lobby lawmakers before the budget deadline.

<![CDATA[Poll: Clinton's Lead Over Trump Shrinks to 3 Points]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 11:39:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Trump+Clinton+.jpg

Hillary Clinton's advantage over Donald Trump has narrowed to just three points, resulting in a dead-heat general-election contest with more than five months to go until November, according to results from a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

The Democrat Clinton gets support from 46 percent of registered voters, while the Republican Trump gets 43 percent. In April, Clinton held an 11-point advantage over Trump, 50 percent to 39 percent, and had led him consistently by double digits since December.

In a more hypothetical matchup, Democrat Bernie Sanders leads Trump by 15 points, 54 percent to 39 percent.

The NBC/WSJ poll — conducted May 15-19 — comes after Trump has become the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, but also as the ongoing Clinton-vs.-Sanders Democratic race has become more contentious in recent days.

Photo Credit: AP/Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton: Trump is a 'Pretend Successful']]> Sun, 22 May 2016 12:52:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/216*120/Clinton+MTP+Trump+Taxes.png

Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump a "pretend successful" who is only focused on "making himself appear great," an attack on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan.

In an interview on "Meet the Press" Sunday, Clinton told NBC News' Chuck Todd there is "no evidence [Trump] has any ideas about making America great," adding that as the campaigns move forward "we're going to be demonstrating the hollowness of his rhetoric."

Clinton attacked Trump for not releasing his tax returns and proving "that he actually has the level of success he claims to have." She also noted the only two returns that have been made public show he hasn’t paid "a penny in income taxes."

"And yet he goes around talking about make America great. You know, that means paying for our military. That means paying for our roads. That means paying for the VA. If you’ve got someone running for president who's afraid to release his tax returns because it will expose the fact that he pays no federal income tax, I think that’s a big problem," Clinton said.

Photo Credit: 'MTP'
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<![CDATA[Sanders Won't Back Wasserman Schultz in Fla. Primary]]> Sat, 21 May 2016 19:44:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/BernieSanders-AP_16139614761695.jpg

Bernie Sanders said Saturday he would not back Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary race for Florida’s 23rd congressional race, NBC News reported. 

During a pre-taped interview with CNN that will air Sunday, Sanders said he would support Nova Southeastern University law professor Tim Canova over Rep. Wasserman Schultz. He also added that she would not reappointed her to head the DNC if he is elected president.

"Well, clearly, I favor her opponent," Sanders told "State of the Union" anchor Jake Tapper. "His views are much closer to mine than as to Wasserman Schultz's." 

Canova is a Sanders supporter and has accused Wasserman Schultz of backing Hillary Clinton.

In a statement provided to NBC News Saturday, Wasserman Schultz said she has been neutral in the race and would remain so despite Sanders' support of Canova.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Illinois Senate Passes Automatic Voter Registration Bill]]> Fri, 20 May 2016 17:03:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/election-18-GettyImages-524566100.jpg

A bill that would enable Illinois residents to automatically register to vote when they apply for, update, or renew a driver’s license or state ID passed out of the Illinois Senate Thursday.

The legislation, which is sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar, would allow the Secretary of State’s office and other similar state agencies to submit eligible voters information to the State Board of Elections when visiting facilities for services.

“The basic information that the secretary of state’s office and other state agencies get on a daily basis is everything an individual needs to register to vote,” Manar said in a statement. “So, this plan would simply allow for you to begin the voter registration process in the same time it takes to update your license or get a state ID card.”

The bill would streamline the registration process, eliminating certain steps and saving taxpayer dollars.

“This plan will help boost voter turnout, save the state money and ensure that every eligible voter in Illinois has the chance to exercise their right,” Manar added.

Aside from expanding access to the polls and streamlining the registration process, automatic registration would also improve the accuracy of the state’s voter rolls. Electronic filing of voter registration would also reduce inadvertent human error related to the process.

“This is another important step in expanding access to the polls and ensuring Illinois’ voter registration process continues to improve,” Sen. Don Harmon, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

According to a release provided by Harmon, Gov. Bruce Rauner has also expressed support for simplifying the state’s voter registration process.

Similar legislation is being passed and considered nationwide. Oregon, California, West Virginia and Vermont have passed similar measures and twenty other states are considering similar bills.

The measure passed the Senate by a 42-16 vote Thursday and will now be sent to the House for further consideration.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>