SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – Members of the Illinois House of Representatives took their oath of office Wednesday.
House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) will once again lead the chamber in the new session of the General Assembly.
This time, he’s leading an even bigger group of Democrats. They grew their supermajority from 73 to 78 members.
“I want to begin today by saying thank you to the historic House Democratic Caucus members, the great 78, for trusting me for a second time to lead our chamber as Speaker of the House,” Welch said.
Republicans expected to see major victories in the 2022 midterm elections but did not. And after those losses, they saw a shakeup in leadership.
Rep. Tony McCombie (R- Savanna) will serve as the new House Minority leader. She’s the first woman to ever lead a caucus in the house.
“We must prioritize the co-equal nature of our government and prioritize fulfilling the constitutional duty one which supersedes party loyalty or providing those checks and balances,” McCombie said.
Former minority leader, Rep. Jim Durkin, resigned from leadership and later from the House before the start of the new session
“Even through all the debates, I never questioned what was in his heart,” Welch said. “I am sincerely grateful for his service to this state.”
Nonetheless, Welch, who became speaker in 2021 after Mike Madigan resigned, believes Democrats and Republicans can work cohesively to get things done.
“While we will certainly have more disagreements, it is my hope that even our disagreements can be productive when we remember that the reasons why we’re doing the work are very similar,” Welch said.
McCombie also called for both sides to move forward together.
“The only way to do that successfully, Speaker Welch, is to join me to be accessible, transparent and honest, to bring our caucuses together to frame real solutions,” McCombie said.
This new session is kicking off with some historic moments. The House will now have its first two Muslim Americans with Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid (D-Justice) and Rep. Nabeela Syed (D-Inverness). Syed and Brad Fritts (R-Dixon), both 23, are also considered to be the first members of Gen-Z to serve in the Illinois legislature.