Seniors living at the Grand Victorian of Pekin retirement community got a rare chance to grill their congressional representative on the issues when U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-17) paid the retirement community a visit Friday afternoon.
Bustos started her visit by introducing herself to the seniors who came to see her, shaking hands and finding their photos in a large “Pekin Community High School Class of 1947” photo hanging in the common room.
After introductions, Bustos sat down to talk about Social Security and Medicare with the residents.
“How many of you would be affected if Social Security were suddenly gone?” she asked.
One resident responded that if her Social Security were cut, she would no longer be able to stay at the Grand Victorian.
Bustos said she has a strong record of support for programs that benefit seniors, like Social Security and Medicare.
When House Republicans put forward a 2014-2015 budget proposal that would significantly cut if not completely eliminate Medicare benefits, Bustos voted against it and has strongly spoken out against it since.
“What I refuse to consider is balancing the budget on the backs of seniors,” she said. She said she asks seniors everywhere she goes the same question she asked at the Grand Victorian: what would happen if you didn’t have Social Security or Medicare?
“I’ve had people saying they’d be on the street,” she said.
Bustos also found out Friday that she received a 100 percent score from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare based on her voting record. Her opponent in November’s congressional race, Bobby Schilling, received a 0 percent rating.
Bustos commended the retirement community for making an effort to get seniors registered to vote and collecting ballots.
“Seniors are a big voting block, and when you have a big voting block people will listen to that,” she said. “No matter what your party is or what your beliefs are, I think it’s very important.”
While Bustos was speaking with residents, one man asked her how she plans to get along with Republicans in Congress, saying he was tired of listening to everyone fight in Washington.
Bustos reassured him that she was also weary of bipartisan bickering and would continue to work amicably with Republicans. Later, she said that all her legislative successes so far can be attributed to bipartisan cooperation.
“Before I was even sworn in I started reaching across the aisle,” she said.