It’s not unusual these days to see Reps. Dave Loebsack and Bobby Schilling together. In fact, they’re fairly frequent collaborators.

Loebsack, an Iowa City Democrat, and Schilling, a Colona Republican, come from different parties. And as they repeatedly say, they don’t agree on much.

But for several months now, the two lawmakers have formed a working relationship that has put them on the same side of advocating for the Rock Island Arsenal and Interstate-74 bridge construction funding. Recently, they’ve also talked about how they can work together to help open the Thomson Correctional Center.

It’s not exactly unheard of for lawmakers to work across party lines on purely local projects, particularly when they have to do with economic development and local institutions

Former Reps. Jim Leach, an Iowa Republican, and Lane Evans, an Illinois Democrat, both worked to help the Arsenal. In fact, the entire Quad-City delegation has worked for years to boost the military base.

Also, Rep. Don Manzullo, an Illinois Republican, came to the area in 2007 to tout a joint manufacturing initiative with then-Rep. Phil Hare, a Democrat.

But the Schilling-Loebsack combination is growing to include more issues, and it’s far more high-profile.

The two congressmen have regularly sent out news releases touting their joint initiatives, cited their work in interviews and in public. They’ve also appeared side-by-side at several events, most relating to the Arsenal, which is the area’s largest employer.

The most recent example was July 3, when together they presented a copy of a House resolution honoring the Arsenal’s 150th anniversary at the Red, White and Boom celebration in Davenport.


Working for the area

Both say they’re just doing their job, working to further area priorities regardless of party.

“My top priority is to get Iowans back to work. I’m going to work with anyone who shares my goals,” says Loebsack, who has worked hard over the past year to introduce himself to the Quad-Cities, where he’ll be seeking re-election this fall. Scott and Clinton counties were added to the 2nd Congressional District when new boundaries were drawn last year.

Adds Schilling: “At the end of the day, it’s good for the American people and specifically, on this deal, for our area.”

However, it’s a relationship that’s also frustrated some in their respective parties, who aren’t convinced it’s entirely altruistic. Doug House, who is chairman of the Rock Island County Democratic Party, says elected officials need to work together. But he says Schilling standing next to Loebsack in front of the Interstate 74 bridge “gives him an affirmation he doesn’t deserve.”

“I think Congressman Schilling is seeking shelter from his votes in Washington, so everything he can do to be photographed with a Democrat, he’s going to do,” House says.

Democrats and Schilling have been at odds for months over transportation funding. Schilling backed a Republican House proposal that Democrats, and even some Republicans, say cut funding for the state of Illinois and didn’t include a key program local officials thought important to get additional money for the I-74 bridge.

The Senate’s version of a transportation bill included the program.

Eventually, a separate, shorter-term House bill that both Schilling and Loebsack supported was merged with the Senate legislation, and the program aimed at helping transportation projects of “national and regional significance” was signed into law.

Schilling, who says he pushed for such a program in the House, dismisses the criticism.

He says it was his partnership with Loebsack that got the state of Illinois to devote $72 million for construction of the I-74 bridge in 2017 and 2018.

Previously, the state Department of Transportation hadn’t included the money in its six-year plan. But Gov. Pat Quinn announced the injection of the funds into the project on the day U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood traveled to the Quad-Cities to inspect the bridge and talk to local officials about it.

Schilling and Loebsack had invited him, as had local officials.

“Until we started working together on this, the Springfield folks were not prioritizing our bridge,” Schilling says. “By our stirring the pot, we got them to prioritize this.”

A spokeswoman for Quinn vigorously disputes that account.

“That’s completely inaccurate,” Brooke Anderson says. “The I-74 bridge replacement has always been a priority for us, and we are committed to it.”

The state had previously called I-74 its next bridge project after completion of a large span in the St. Louis. Brooke adds the state hasn’t had the total funding in place for I-74’s replacement, but in May, it adjusted worker compensation commitments within the DOT to free up money for the construction. The funds are but a down payment on the total amount needed by both Illinois and Iowa.

Archer, Bustos critical of opponents

An adviser to Republican John Archer, who is challenging Loebsack this fall, didn’t criticize the working relationship of the two, but he wasn’t willing to give the Democrat any credit, either.

“We’re glad that Representative Schilling is helping Iowa families, because as Iowa’s most ineffective congressman, Dave Loebsack clearly can’t get the job done,” says Brian Dumas, an adviser to Archer.

Loebsack, in an interview, noted it is Archer who came out in opposition to a defense policy bill he and Schilling worked on to include language eliminating the cap on public-private partnerships at the Arsenal. Local officials think the provision will lead to more job creation as a result.

Archer has praised the idea of partnerships, but some conservatives and civil libertarians have complained about other aspects of the law.

Allison Jaslow, the campaign manager for Schilling’s Democratic challenger, former East Moline Alderwoman Cheri Bustos, said Friday “this is another chapter in the tale of two Bobby Schillings.” She says he has a record of partisanship in Washington, D.C., but then seeks opportunities to “convince his constituents back in Illinois otherwise.”

Bustos has pointed to Schilling’s vote for legislation last year that put in motion $600 billion in defense cuts over 10 years, only to come back to the district and argue against their taking effect.

That vote was part of the deal to increase the debt ceiling last year, and Schilling has said he and other lawmakers didn’t think a bipartisan committee charged with meeting debt reduction targets would fail. That has set in motion the cuts.

His campaign, meanwhile, has said Bustos’ opposition to the deal means she would have allowed the economy to collapse.

At the time, advocates of raising the debt ceiling said if it wasn’t approved, there would be a global economic crisis. But they also complained that congressional Republicans were the ones who were unfairly linking debt reduction to raising the ceiling.

Schilling says it’s “sad” Democrats are critical.

“They’d rather have this big divide than have us working together,” he says.

Republican Party leaders in Scott County have not expressed any qualms about the two lawmakers’ relationship or the impact it might have on the election. And some Illinois Democrats, such as 17th District Committeeman Don Johnston, say they don’t have any concerns.

“It’s to the benefit of both of them, but philosophically they’re yards apart. And I think that’s pretty evident,” Johnston says.

Still, even Schilling says that he’s gotten some push-back by members of his own party.

“We have people that say, ‘Hey, you guys shouldn’t work together so much in D.C.,’” he said.

Hare, whom Schilling defeated two years ago, says there are several Democrats who think the two are “too cozy.” And he echoed House’s criticism over the I-74 matter.

As for the impact on the 17th District race, which is considered one of the top targets for Democrats, Hare says it may not hurt Bustos.

But he adds, “It doesn’t make it any easier.”

(13) comments


I agree, what a distasteful world we live in when two gentlemen of different political backgrounds come together for the good of a common cause. Isn't this the way that it should be? If our politicians in the capital would only follow suit, we wouldn't be in the position that we are in now. We all know that Schilling has gained a new name while spending time in Washington DC (Phil A. Buster Jr.), however, we cant expect him to live like that at all times. He should step out on his own at times as well.

Worker United

The problem with Congressman Schilling is that he says one thing, and then votes to counteract what he said. He says he is for Arsenal jobs, but then votes on bills that negatively affect the Arsenal workforce. Schilling says he is for jobs, and then he votes to repeal safety laws that have been on the books for decades. How can you say you are for jobs, but care nothing about the worker’s safety? If you are a blue collar worker, you cannot afford another to elect him to another term.


Wow..Schilling co-operating with a Democrat for the good of citizens? That proves he's eeeeeeeeevil! And how can this be, when we keep hearing about Schilling being an ultramegaunbelievagiblyfarextremecrazyhorrible rightier than rightwinger? The Butsos for Congress campaign says so. Of course they wouldn't lie; they're OBAMA supporters.


It is a bridge and neither party or state can get it built without the other. Everyone is going to want to point fingers when it takes longer and millions more to be completed.

Every pizza place local and national is struggling, not an easy business.


WOW! Alpha and Omega......typical smoke and mirrors-how would anyone take your comments seriously, when clearly you can't even get the simple facts correct! Congressman Schilling has ten children, NOT twelve and secondly, how dare you comment on his wife or his wife's family, none of your made up accusations are even close to the truth! You have managed to show your complete ignorance.....way to start off the week. You want to attack a small business, because you have nothing meaningful to say about Bobby's Congressional work.....he is doing a great job and you can't stand it! I find this hilarious! Please take your sorry self to Pizza and Subs, I feel bad for them!
Milltown, you are spot on! The dems can't stomach the idea of a dem working with a Republican, no matter how great the results are-pathetic!
Banned123-great comment!

Freedom Stand

The picture in this article says it all about our Illinois congressman. He always wants to be the center of attention. That is why we here in Illinois we call him Broadway Bobby Schilling. He’s always where the camera is and does a great acting job. Broadway Bobby tells the people what they want to hear but when it comes to substance, well we here in Illinois have not found any from Broadway Bobby yet. Senator Durbin does all the work and Broadway Bobby takes the credit. It’s time to put Broadway Bobby’s acting career to rest and elect some one that stands up for the people.
Cher Bustos 2012


Since Bobby Schilling has taken office, he tells the constituents of the 17th. District one thing and votes another way. All you have to do is inform yourself. It’s public record. Bobby tells you that he’s for a balanced budget and getting our debt under control, but goes to DC and votes like John Boehner tells him to. Bobby Schilling said he would not vote with his party when it was not right. Bobby Schilling has sided with his party 95% of the time. I know as a conservative the Republicans were not even close to voting what is right 95% of the timein the House. Bobby voted to fund Obamacare by a tune of $105 billion for 2012, but tells the 17th. District and votes to repeal Obamacare. One of the few times Bobby voted against his party was to renew the Patriot Act. Bobby this is a great tool to help us combat terrorism. Does Bobby Schilling read and understand the bills he votes on? He signed a contract with the 17th. to read every bill before he votes on it. Does anyone know where this guy stands on any issue? It’s time to hold our politicians accountable for their broken promises and unwarranted actions.


Oh how horrible. Two congressman of different political parties actually coming together to do something good for the community. Only in today's political climate could that be a bad thing. Now get back to running attack ads, that's the American way.


The stark truth comes out. Democrat politicians like Cheri Bustos and Doug House despise having Democrats working with Republicans on anything, even if their cooperation is for the common good of the Quad Cities area.

Does the word PATHETIC come to mind.

Milltown, the troll of east moline, has reared his ugly head.

If you would have had the common sense to READ, you would see that the republican candidate in Iowa was being criticized. it is Archer who came out in opposition to a defense policy bill he and Schilling worked on to include language eliminating the cap on public-private partnerships at the Arsenal.

Bustos has pointed to Schilling’s vote for legislation last year that put in motion $600 billion in defense cuts over 10 years, only to come back to the district and argue against their taking effect.

Source: this very article.

If you look at the congressional record, it was Schilling that didn't fight for jobs at the arsenal, and ended up allowing arsenal jobs to transfer not only to Detroit, but also to John Boehner's district. source: Congressional record.

when it comes to pathetic, it is your name that comes to mind.

According to the article, Loebsack AND Bustos are arguing for jobs in the area. Bobby is in lockstep to Boehner. He gave away jobs to detroit, and Ohio. Democrats have a long track record of trying to reach out torepublicans and work with them.

Democrats, including Schilling and Boehner, have documented statements indicating they will do whatever it takes to destroy Obama, even if it harms our economy. So, trolling milltownfan, you can thank one term Bobby for jobs in the area tanking. I hope you are proud. his pizza business is even failing - and if he can't run even a pizza parlor, how does one expect him to do anything for this area? He doesn't CARE! He's stated as much. He wants to cut the price of Thompson prison - although neither the State of Illinois AND the Federal Government wants it cut.

Yep, milltownfan, you must love his pizza. Maybe he'll hire you back when he comes back from washington in November, when he gets destroyed in the election.


The job transfers out of the arsenal were based on BRAC actions taken prior to Schilling getting elected. Nothing he could have done about it, if he would have tried. It is sad that an article pointing out that rival parties can work together brings out the naysayers (mill town).


Bobby's pizza is sooooo good, even Cheri Bustos thinks it's heavenly.


The only reason St. Giuseppes is still in business is because his wife's family has money. Bobby MARRIED into money. He didn't make it on his own. His wife's family has kept that place in business since the beginning.

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