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React to new House Speaker

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021

* Illinois AFL-CIO…

The Illinois AFL-CIO today issued the following statement in response to the Illinois House selecting Emanuel “Chris” Welch as the new Speaker:

“The Illinois AFL-CIO, representing nearly 1 million working families across the state, today offers a hearty congratulations to new Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch. Speaker Welch has a proven track record of fighting for working families, and we are eager to work with him, Senate President Harmon and Gov. Pritzker to address the significant challenges facing the state of Illinois as we begin 2021.”

Tim Drea, President, Illinois AFL-CIO
Pat Devaney, Secretary-Treasurer, Illinois AFL-CIO

* IFT…

Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery released the following statement on today’s historic vote to elect Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch as the first Black House Speaker in Illinois.

“Today, the Illinois House of Representatives made history by electing its first Black Speaker, Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch. On behalf of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, I congratulate Speaker Welch on his momentous victory. As a state representative, Speaker Welch has been a friend and ally in protecting middle-class families from devastating cuts to public services and healthcare and an ardent supporter of public education. I have stood with him as he organized grassroots support for the safety of school children. Chris is a true public servant and will make an excellent Speaker.

“We look forward to working with Speaker Welch to protect collective bargaining for all workers and to strengthen public education for all children and educators of Illinois.”

* PPIA…

Statement attributed to Jennifer Welch, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action:

Planned Parenthood Illinois Action (PPIA) congratulates Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch on his​ historic election as the first African American Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. As a co-sponsor of both the Reproductive Health Act and HB40, which guarantee that abortion is safe and legal in Illinois, Speaker Welch has proven he is a champion for reproductive rights. We applaud his work requiring Illinois health insurance plans to cover contraception without a co-pay and his co-sponsorship of the Equal Rights Amendment. We look forward to continuing to work with Speaker Welch to ensure that Illinois is a safe haven for reproductive rights and access to health care.

We also urge Speaker Welch to continue his leadership on reproductive rights and push for the repeal the Parental Notice of Abortion Act, as well as promote the enactment of PPIA’s other 2021 legislative agenda items including family planning funding for lower-income and uninsured people, passing the Responsible Education for Adolescent and Children’s Health (REACH) Act, and supporting policies to address Black maternal health disparities.

* Equality Illinois…

Statement from Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson on the election of State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 102nd General Assembly:

“Equality Illinois congratulates Rep. Welch on his historic election today as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. From Marriage Equality in 2013 to the Inclusive Curriculum Law in 2019, Speaker Welch has always been a strong ally of LGBTQ Illinoisans and valued partner of Equality Illinois. We look forward to working with him to keep the Land of Lincoln moving forward and ensure Illinois lives up to our shared values of justice, fairness, and equality.”

* IEC…

The Illinois Environmental Council congratulates Emanuel “Chris” Welch on his election as house speaker and looks forward to our continued partnership in advancing protections for people and the environment in his new role,” said Jen Walling, IEC executive director. “It is monumental to have Speaker Welch, a champion for environmental justice and Clean Energy Jobs Act co-sponsor, who has earned a lifetime score of 98% on our Environmental Scorecard, holding the gavel. His speakership is historic as the first Black speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, and we are eager to work with him in further tackling pollution, climate change and the other environmental challenges before us.

* ICJC…

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition congratulates State Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch on his election as the next Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

As a longtime champion for the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), Speaker Welch understands the urgency of addressing climate change with solutions built around equitable jobs, lower energy bills, and no bailouts.

The new Speaker takes the helm at a historic time, and our coalition looks forward to confronting the challenges and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead together.”

…Adding… Rep. Kifowit…

Today, Rep. Stephanie Kifowit issued the following statement congratulating Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch on his historic election as the first Black Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

“When I announced my intention to run for Speaker of the House back in October, I did so because I believed our caucus deserved a choice in leadership. Today, I am proud to have voted for Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, who has shown time and time again that he is in it for the people of Illinois.

“Our state is facing tremendous challenges and it is imperative that we solve them together. Speaker Welch has shown that he will unite the state for the betterment of all Illinoisans, and I look forward to working with him in the 102nd General Assembly.

“I am energized by Speaker Welch’s vision and dedication, and I am proud to be a small part of the historic election of Illinois’ first Black Speaker of the House.”

* Frerichs…

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs today issued the following statement regarding the election of Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch as the newly elected Speaker of the 102nd General Assembly:

“We witnessed history today when members of the Illinois House of Representatives elected the first African American to lead their chamber,” Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said.

“I have worked successfully with the new Speaker to pass legislation to make it easier to save for college and fought alongside him to ensure the life insurance industry pays death benefits after a customer passes away,” Frerichs said. “Because of those past victories, I am excited to work with him to bring financial order to our state and to expand economic opportunity for every person in Illinois.”

* Personal PAC…

In every single fight for reproductive rights in the Illinois General Assembly over the past decade, Chris Welch has been a passionate, strategic, thoughtful and leading voice in the Illinois House.

Welch is fearless in his support for reproductive justice.

When many thought the historic 2017 fight for HB 40 would not be successful, Chris Welch worked to help us end the disgraceful denial of abortion care to low-income women and state employees.

In 2019, when the ground-breaking Reproductive Health Act (RHA) was facing an uphill battle in the Illinois House, Chris Welch spoke eloquently for the need to protect all Illinois women, regardless of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court.

In continuing to demonstrate his leadership and commitment to the reproductive rights of all, Chris Welch did not hesitate for a second to take on the great responsibility of being the Chief Sponsor of the House bill to repeal the dangerous Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion (PNA) law. We look forward to working with Speaker Welch to rid Illinois of this harmful law that puts the health and lives of young women at risk every single day.

Today, Speaker Welch becomes the first African American in Illinois history to lead the Illinois House.

It is a great day for Illinois and reproductive justice!

* IHA…

The Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) congratulates State Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch on his historic election as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 102nd General Assembly. IHA and the hospital community look forward to working with Speaker Welch on critical healthcare issues, including addressing disparities in health and healthcare, to improve the health and well-being of all Illinoisans.

* JGG…

State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, who was sworn in for her second term as an Illinois state representative for the 17th district on Wednesday, released the following statement:

“House Democrats have made a transformational change in our caucus by electing a new Speaker of the House. I congratulate my colleague, Representative Emmanuel “Chris” Welch, on his victory and I look forward to working with him as we lead Illinois through these uncertain times. I am proud that our caucus has finally elected a person of color to lead us. Speaker Welch represents real progress.

“As the first African-American Speaker of the House in Illinois’ 202-year history, his perspective and leadership is invaluable as we seek to combat racial inequity and anti-blackness in our communities. Speaker Welch has fought to expand access to healthcare for Illinois families, been a staunch ally of environmental organizations and has been a leader in protecting a woman’s right to choose.

“I am encouraged by the role that women played in this process. The first voices to call on former Speaker Madigan to retire were women. Women led the process to change our leadership from the beginning. I trust Speaker Welch to lead the House with an agenda that protects women’s rights, increases environmental sustainability and creates a more equitable Illinois.

“I am proud of the careful consideration and process that our caucus underwent. We came out of that process more united than we have ever been. That commitment to cooperation will be a vital asset and fills me with hope and resolve for the upcoming legislative session.

“The election of a new Speaker is not the end of this historic transformation, it is just the beginning. Addressing the immense challenges that our state faces while identifying new opportunities will be a herculean effort. It will require bold leadership, innovative solutions and difficult decisions. I am more confident than ever that our caucus, united around Speaker Welch, will rise to meet these challenges and work together to lead Illinois into a bright future.”

* Chamber…

The Illinois Chamber would like to congratulate Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch on his election today as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. Speaker Welch will be the first new speaker in the lifetime of many Illinoisans. It is no secret that Illinois faces a number of challenges including its budget and business climate, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Illinois Chamber hopes to work collaboratively with Speaker Welch to better the state’s economy and jobs climate.

* Teamsters…

On behalf, Teamsters throughout the State of Illinois, Teamsters Joint Council No. 25 President Terrence J. Hancock offered his congratulations to State Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch on being elected Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 102nd General Assembly on Wednesday.

“On behalf of Teamsters Joint Council 25 and the 100,000 hard working men and women we represent, I would like to offer our sincere congratulations to Speaker Welch. This is an historic moment, not just because the House is seeing its first change in speaker in three decades, but also because Speaker Welch is the first African American to lead the House in our State’s history,” Hancock said.

“This is an important time for our nation. We are more divided than we have ever been in my lifetime. That is why it is critical that we have strong leadership in our State. In his time in the House, Speaker Welch has been a staunch supporter of working families, and I am confident he will bring that same sensibility to his new role,” Hancock said.

“I would also like to thank outgoing Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan for his decades of public service and his dedication to working families and the labor movement. I know that our Members and countless others throughout the State, are the better for it,” Hancock said. “And to Speaker Welch, I look forward to working with you on behalf of Teamsters throughout Illinois, and I wish you nothing but success as our next Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.”

* Clerk Yarbrough…

Cook County Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough issued the following statement on the election of State Representative Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch as the new Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

“I want to congratulate Representative Welch on his historic election as Speaker, and as a former Assistant Majority Leader in the House, I am particularly proud that Chris will serve as the first African American Speaker of the House. It is a fitting and just tribute to his leadership, and I have great confidence that he will serve with distinction in working to move our state forward.

I look forward to working with him on legislation concerning the operations and efficiencies of the Cook County Clerk’s Office, particularly with respect to our continued efforts to safeguard and protect the integrity of our electoral process as well as expanding access to the ballot as broadly as possible,” said Yarbrough.

* Comptroller Mendoza…

Congratulations, Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch, on your historic election as the first African-American Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives! I have appreciated your help on legislation over the years and I look forward to working with you to move Illinois ahead.

* Rep. Margaret Croke…

“I congratulate Emanuel “Chris” Welch on his historic election as the first African-American Speaker of the Illinois House. It marks the start of a new era during a moment in time when much is at stake for our democracy as well as our state and its communities. I’m proud to have an opportunity to serve in this chamber and get to work with new leadership on protecting our small businesses, women’s healthcare and environment.”

* Faith in Place…

The Faith in Place Action Fund issued the following statement regarding the election of Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch as the new Speaker of the 102nd General Assembly.

Yesterday, the Faith in Place Action Fund stood in solidarity with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus in their unanimous support of Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside) for Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives by issuing our strong endorsement.

We did so because Rep. Welch is a longtime ally as a champion of environmental and climate justice. Today we extend our congratulations to Speaker Welch. We stand in prayer, solidarity, and action to continue to promote political action for environmental justice in Illinois.

* IAMHP…

“The Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans would like to congratulate State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch on his election as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 102nd General Assembly. This is truly a momentous victory, becoming the first African American Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. IAMHP has had the pleasure of working with Speaker Welch on a number of priority initiatives including, implicit bias training to address Racial Disparities in Healthcare and protections for nursing home residents. We look forward to continuing to work together to improve the Medicaid program for over 3 million Illinoisans.”

* SEIU Local 73…

“SEIU Local 73 congratulates Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch on his historic election as the first Black Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives,” said Dian Palmer, President of SEIU Local 73. “Speaker Welch’s support for the labor movement and working families is the leadership we need. We look forward to working with him in the continuing fight for workers’, voters’, and immigrants’ rights.”

* AG Raoul…

Attorney General Kwame Raoul today issued the following statement to congratulate Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch on his election as the 70th speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

“Today is a historic day, as Rep. Chris Welch was elected to serve as the 70th speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. Speaker Welch has been a dedicated advocate for his constituents, and I know Speaker Welch will continue to serve the people of Illinois with diligence.

“Members of the Illinois House of Representatives have passed the baton to a new generation of leadership, and I look forward to our work together to enact policies and reforms that protect and benefit all Illinois residents.”

* Secretary White…

Statement from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White on the Election of Emanuel “Chris” Welch as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives

It was an honor today to preside over the inauguration of the 102nd Illinois House of Representatives and the historic election of Emanuel “Chris” Welch as the new House Speaker. Speaker Welch will serve as the first African American in that important post. I congratulate Chris on this historic achievement.

* Chicago’s mayor…


* Governor…

Governor JB Pritzker issued the following statement on the election of Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch as Speaker of the House.

“I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Representative Welch on his historic win as he becomes our state’s first Black Speaker of the House,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Speaker Welch has a record of championing legislation that has improved the lives of hard working Illinoisans, and I have enjoyed working with him to move our state forward. As Governor, I believe strongly that it is incumbent upon me to work with the General Assembly’s leaders who are chosen by their caucuses, and I look forward to continuing to work with Speaker Welch on our shared agenda.”

“I also want to recognize Speaker Madigan for his decades of service to the state of Illinois. Years from now, when historians focus on the legacy of the General Assemblies he has led, they will see beyond this chapter to the many achievements in the fight to lift up working families and those most in need, and they will especially acknowledge the necessary firewall that was built in the fight against Governor Rauner’s destructive agenda.

* IBIC…

The Illinois Business Immigration Coalition congratulates State Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch on his historic election as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 102nd General Assembly. Speaker Welch is a fighter for immigrants and small businesses. We look forward to continuing to work with him to ensure Illinois’ most vulnerable populations and businesses have a fighting chance to recover, rebuild, and serve their local economy.

We thank Speaker Michael J. Madigan for his decades of service. Under Speaker Madigan’s leadership, Illinois became the most immigrant friendly state in the nation. From passing in-state tuition, to driver’s licenses and healthcare for undocumented children and seniors, immigrants are able to go to school, work, church in relative peace. We wish Speaker Madigan the best.

* LG…

Lt. Gov. Stratton’s Statement on New Speaker of the Illinois House

CHICAGO —This is historic. Congratulations to Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch for becoming the first African-American to hold this position.

In this country, the momentum is towards broadening leadership that looks like, and represents, all people. When we do that we can create policies and initiatives that will positively impact all Illinoisans.

Thank you to immediate past Speaker Michael Madigan for your service. We look forward to working with Speaker Welch and the newly inaugurated members of the 102nd General Assembly on issues that impact every resident of Illinois, including economic development, physical and mental health, education, and social justice reform.

* LIUNA…

“We wish to congratulate Representative Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch on his election as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. Laborers across the state of Illinois will surely benefit from Speaker Welch’s leadership and his dedication to working families,” said John F. Penn, Vice President and Regional Manager of LiUNA’s 50,000 member Midwest Region.

Raised in a union household, Mr. Welch was awarded the prestigious Zeke Giorgi award by the Illinois AFL-CIO in 2016 as an outspoken advocate for working families. He has a strong voting record on issues important to not only Laborers, but the entire union movement.

“We look forward to working closely with Speaker Welch,” Penn said, “and again, congratulate him on his historic win as Illinois’ first African American Speaker of the House.”

“We also want to thank outgoing House Speaker, Michael Madigan. As the longest serving House speaker in American history, Mr. Madigan’s reputation as a champion for issues facing working families is well deserved,” Penn said.

“Historic laws expanding and strengthening prevailing wage and work zone safety laws and passage of collective bargaining rights for public employees were successfully guided through the Illinois House of Representatives under his leadership. And, we will never forget that Speaker Madigan also stood up to Bruce Rauner and his anti-worker agenda for four, long years; and won.

“The hard-working Laborers in downstate Illinois owe you a debt of gratitude and thank you Speaker Madigan.”

* Carpenters…

Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Executive-Secretary Treasurer Gary Perinar issued the following statement today:

“The 30,000 hardworking men and women of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters congratulate State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch on his historic election to become the first Black Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. Speaker Welch is a strong advocate for working families across Illinois, and we look forward to working with him and his leadership team to enact policies that focus on improving the lives of the working class and make sure our rights are protected.”

* *EA President Kathi Griffin…

“The Illinois Education Association would like to congratulate one of the top public education advocates in the Illinois General Assembly, and the 2018 recipient of the IEA Friend of Education Award, on his election as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside), has consistently distinguished himself, specifically when he served as past chair of the House Higher Education Committee and as a member of the Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations Committee. Representative Welch believes in local control of schools. He was the chief sponsor of legislation that would empower local school boards to create charter schools, rather than having the state charter school commission dictate that decision. He opposes measures that would divert public money to private schools and supports providing schools and education employees with what they need in order to deliver a high-quality education to all students. I was able to work with him, personally, when he co-chaired Gov. JB Pritzker’s Educational Success Transition Committee with me, Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Chicago Public Schools Supt. Janice Jackson. We look forward to working with him in his new role and know he’ll do a great job! Speaker Welch’s commitment to education predates his time in the legislature. He served for years on the Proviso Township High School District 209 Board of Education and led efforts to create Illinois’ first suburban-based magnet high school, the Proviso Math and Science Academy.”

* IARF…

IARF congratulates the new Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, Emmanuel “Chris” Welch on his historic election. As a State Representative from the 7th District, Representative Welch consistently voted for funding and policies to support community providers serving and supporting children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and serious mental illnesses. We look forward to working with Speaker Welch, President Harmon, and Republican Leaders Durkin and McConchie in the 102nd General Assembly to advance and improve community-based services in Illinois.

* G-PAC…

Newly elected Speaker Welch has been a staunch ally of gun violence survivors, underserved communities and a champion of laws designed to protect children, families, and communities from the devastation caused by illegal guns. As G-PAC approaches the gun violence problem as a public health crisis, we look forward to working with Speaker Welch to pass policies that will promote equity by providing employment, education and healthcare to all Illinois communities.

* Rep. Harper…

State Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, Joint Caucus Chair for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC), issued the following statement regarding the election of state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, as the first African American Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives:

“Today’s election of Speaker Welch to lead the Illinois House is historic. As the first African American to lead the Illinois House, Speaker Welch has reached a pinnacle not just of his own making, but of generations of African Americans before him who fought for equality and justice.

“Here in Illinois the Legislative Black Caucus is extremely proud to have had several members who represent historic firsts, a list that now includes Speaker Welch. Former ILBC member Carol Moseley Braun served Illinois as the first Black, female U.S. Senator in the history of our nation and former ILBC member Barack Obama served our country as the first Africian American president. As a member of the Black Caucus and as a member of the House who has worked alongside Speaker Welch, I am confident that he will have the same tradition of forward-thinking service as President Obama and Sen. Moseley Braun.

“I look forward to working with Speaker Welch to help achieve justice and equality for all and on behalf of the members of the Black Caucus, I salute him on this historic achievement.”

* Raja…

Today, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi issued the following statement in response to State Representative Chris Welch’s election as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives:

“I congratulate State Rep. Chris Welch on being elected as the 70th Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. I look forward to working with Speaker Welch, Gov. Pritzker, Senate President Harmon, and the members of the Illinois General Assembly to pass much needed state and local government stimulus support in Congress as we continue to fight and beat COVID-19.”

* SEIU Healthcare…

The following is a statement from SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley regarding the news that Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch has been elected as the 70th Speaker of the Illinois House and the first African American to hold that position.

We congratulate Representative Welch on his historic election as the first Black Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Speaker Welch has been a steadfast champion for working families and the 85,000 members of SEIU HCII, and we look forward to working with him on the critical issues of the day: dismantling structural racism, eliminating income inequality, defeating COVID-19, and making sure everyone has a voice on the job and in their community. We will engage with Welch as we continue to fight for a society and economy that works for everyone.

* Harmon…

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon issued the following statement congratulating the new Speaker of the Illinois House Chris Welch.

“Congratulations to Representative Welch on being elected Speaker of the House. It is a historic occasion.

“We have worked together for years serving the near western suburbs, so I know firsthand the commitment he has to the people he represents.

“We have monumental challenges ahead of us this legislative session. I look forward to working with Speaker Welch to meet them.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

7 Comments »
  1. - PC - Wednesday, Jan 13, 21 @ 1:53 pm:

    Notice anything missing from Tim Drea?


  2. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jan 13, 21 @ 2:27 pm:

    We now have a new cast member at the helm. Good luck to him and Illinois hopes he successfully works with the governor and other leaders to improve things for its residents.

    Now, the big question, how many days before Madigan retires?


  3. - Montrose - Wednesday, Jan 13, 21 @ 2:45 pm:

    “Now, the big question, how many days before Madigan retires?”

    Definitely before they assign him a small office in Stratton.


  4. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Jan 13, 21 @ 2:46 pm:

    “The Illinois Policy Institute issued the following statement regarding the election of Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch as the newly elected Speaker of the 102nd General Assembly: Gosh darn it, now we have to think of another reason.”


  5. - Bear3 - Wednesday, Jan 13, 21 @ 4:20 pm:

    Nice and let us see where the ground moves and dust settle and deals are negotiated


  6. - Essential State Employee - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 8:08 am:

    Although other unions like SEIU, Teamsters, and the Carpenter’s union, plus AFL-CIO, congratulated Welch’s election to Speaker, AFSCME is conspicuously silent.

    Could AFSCME’s silence on Speaker Welch have to do with their opposition to the collective bargaining provisions in last sessions police bill (HB 163, SFA 2):

    https://www.afscme31.org/news/hb-163-jeopardizes-core-workplace-rights


  7. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 9:35 am:

    Essential State Employee, That’s old news. https://m.afscme31.org/news/afscme-efforts-protect-worker-rights-in-criminal-justice-reform-bill


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