Senator Durbin's Accomplishments
Improving Health Care: The author of landmark legislation to ban smoking on commercial airline flights, Durbin has worked in the Senate to protect children from the harm caused by tobacco. For his work, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Lung Association.
Recently, Durbin was an active participant in a 16-month debate about health insurance reform. With Durbin's help, Congress passed and the President signed into law landmark legislation to bring costs under control, extend access to affordable health insurance to those without insurance, make sure that folks have a fighting chance against insurance companies that turn them down when they need help the most, and make sure Medicare is strong for years to come.
Among his other health achievements, Durbin has worked successfully for increased federal funding to prevent childhood asthma, increase immunizations and expand medical research. He has successfully fought to increase the share of federal funding dedicated to combating AIDS worldwide. He has also been a leader in promoting organ and tissue donation. In the spring of 2004, Durbin put forth a plan to give small businesses affordable choices among private health insurance plans and expand access to coverage for their employees.
Protecting Consumers: Consumer protection is high on Durbin's list of priorities. Continuing an effort spurred by a meeting with the mother of a Chicago six-year-old who died after eating contaminated hamburger, Durbin led the effort to modernize the fragmented federal food safety system under a single food-safety agency. In 2009, he co-authored a bipartisan bill to strengthen the Food and Drug Administration's oversight of the domestic and foreign food supply.
Durbin also led the effort to ban ephedra, a dangerous product sold as a nutritional supplement and has introduced legislation to require manufacturers of other dietary supplements to ensure their products are safe before they are sold. He secured $2.8 million for the implementation of new safety standards to protect patients from injuries related to re-use of medical devices that are intended to be used only once.
Durbin also led the fight in 2008 to overhaul and modernize the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- nearly doubling its budget and expanding its enforcement capabilities to make toys and other products safer.
Working for Illinois: Throughout his years in Congress, Senator Durbin has worked hard to advocate the state's views on national issues while lobbying for federal support for local initiatives.
He led the fight to strengthen Illinois' transportation infrastructure, which is a critical factor supporting economic development in Illinois, by:
- Securing federal funds for major highway, infrastructure, and transit improvements throughout the state, including a rebuilt Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago, new Mississippi River bridges being planned near St. Louis and the Quad Cities, and an expansion of Metra and CTA transit lines in the Chicago area.
- Promoting access to air travel throughout Illinois, including the modernization and expansion of O'Hare Airport, increases in airport improvement grants at many airports around the state, and introduction of new flights to O'Hare and other national hub airports for several downstate airports.
- Fighting to preserve and expand Amtrak's role in the state, including the largest Midwestern expansion of Amtrak service in almost 20 years.
He also worked to create a better health care system for our veterans when they return home, including expanded VA funding and a recently enacted program to identify and treat those who have suffered from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.