House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), pictured in this file photo from last week, acknowledged the Legislature's spring-time failures before adjourning his legislative chamber Friday. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
SPRINGFIELD-House Speaker Michael Madigan acknowledged Friday what was plain to see for virtually anyone watching the Statehouse the past few months: This vintage of lawmakers has been a do-little bunch.
Before delivering his brief remarks about this General Assembly's failures, Madigan (D-Chicago) drew an indirect swipe from his GOP counterpart, House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego), about the failure to strike a deal on what arguably has been the spring session's most dominant issue, pension reform.
"This is a session where we have not enjoyed a great deal of success. That's very obvious," Madigan (D-Chicago) told the House chamber before adjourning for the summer with nothing to show on pensions or same-sex marriage.
Cross contrasted Madigan's reputation as a master legislative tactician with the failure to get a pension bill to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk.
"Mr. Speaker, you've been seen as and described as the best chess player in the building, a master, brilliant, 10 steps ahead of everybody else and when you want to get something done, you always seem to find a way to get it done, and I say that with the utmost respect for your ability, both politically and policy-wise and otherwise," Cross said.
"I don't know why we haven't done pensions. I don't get it," Cross said, his voice trailing off with a hint of sarcasm.
Madigan insisted that he and his 71-member Democratic caucus that runs the House don't intend to give up in tackling pension reform or any other unresolved issue.
The failure "doesn't mean we're going to walk away from our responsibility," Madigan said. "It means, as Leader Cross said, that huge problems remain. And what we are going to be called upon to do is to give as much effort and dedication to the solution to those problems as we go forward as we have in the past.
"I don't think we should take our lack of success today as a reason to give up. I think we ought to rededicate ourselves to the task at hand. We're all available when needed, and I think I speak for all of us that we will remain dedicated to the task at hand, and we're available to take the tough votes, as we did in the House."