WASHINGTON--Freshman Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) will join Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in continuing a long-time tradition of the senators from Illinois hosting a constitutient coffee weekly when the Senate is in session for Illinoisans visiting the Capitol.
On Monday, Durbin and his chief of staff, Patrick Souders, carried donuts over to Kirk's Senate Russell Building office to greet the new senator, sworn in last week, and his staff. The two agreed to host the coffee and donut sessions usually held on Thursdays.
It is fairly rare for both senators of a state to do events together and Illinois is a proud exception: the coffees started with the late Sen. Paul Simon and former Sen. Alan J. Dixon. Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and Simon were the next pair followed by Braun and Durbin; Durbin and former Sen. Peter Fitgerald, the first Republican in the mix followed by Durbin and now President Obama. Durbin and former Sen. Roland Burris were next and now Durbin and Republican Kirk are the new pair.
The breakfasts are chances for anyone from Illinois to talk directly to their senators and their top staffers about any problem or issue without any need at all for an appointment-- or a professional lobbyist to get involved.
Durbin and Kirk will restart the breakfasts starting in January, after the new Congress is sworn-in
Later in the day, both Senators were scheduled to attend the White House Christmas party for members of Congress. Kirk was taking his 16-year-old niece from North Carolina.