Congressman Shimkus touts record ahead of election - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Congressman Shimkus touts record ahead of election

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WSIL -- U.S. Representative John Shimkus went unopposed in the 2016 election, but on November 6th he faces a challenger in Illinois' 15th Congressional District. The republican congressman says voters should look at his record, for why they should pick him over the democratic nominee, Kevin Gaither.

"I've just got a proven record," said Rep. Shimkus. "People know me. I'm a conservative republican and I've got the record to support those positions."

In office since 1997, Congressman Shimkus now represents 33 counties across central and southern Illinois. He says voters in this area support values he also supports, including less government, less taxes, the second amendment, and being pro-life.

During his more than 20 years in Washington, Shimkus says he's worked to push through legislation that benefits his constituents.

"One of the most important things I'm pretty proud of is my bipartisan work in the last congress having President Obama sign my bill, along with democrats, on reforming toxic chemical law," said Shimkus.

He also addressed his work on environmental issues saying, "We passed a bill to address the nuclear legacy and how do we consolidate nuclear fuel or defense waste and do we get it to a long term repository." He continued, "We spent a lot of time on the renewable fuel standard and ethanol trying to make sure that we have the market conditions for our corn growers and our renewable fuel and an opportunity to grow. So, that directly impacts my constituents especially the corn growers."

But Shimkus admits those farmers have also been hurt by the current administration's trade war.

"Well the president understands the burden he's placed on them," said Rep. Shimkus. "He's said this is a trade war. There are sectors that get harmed. Agricultural America is getting harmed, that's why he has this $12 billion dollars to help offset."
    
Shimkus says it's important lawmakers help these farmers by passing an agriculture bill, but he insists most farmers understand why the administration believes the trade war is important.

He said, "Most of them are willing to be in this fight. They're very strong supporters of the president. I'm not sure they can sustain it over a year but right now they're willing to give the president a try in hopes of getting a better deal."

He also touted his efforts to combat the opioid crisis. While recent reports have found he, along with hundreds of other politicians, have accepted thousands in campaign money from pharmaceutical companies, Shimkus defends accepting the funds.

"A company doesn't directly give or sale that drug," he said. "So it's a prescription drug. So that means that it has to be prescribed by a health professional. So I don't see the connection between the manufacturer and the consumer."

As for moving forward in a heated political climate, the congressman says he's worked on bipartisan legislation in the past and plans to reach across the aisle in the future.

"All I know is I have to lead by example," said Shimkus. "Am I the one calling people names, have I done it before? Sure. Hopefully I've matured and grown up a little bit."

Rep. Shimkus faces democratic nominee, Kevin Gaither, who's never held office. News 3 reached out to Gaither's campaign but did not get a response by Thursday evening. His campaign website lists fixing health care, reforming student loans, and expanding education programs as his top platforms.

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