Kirk rests after stroke, his Senate projects don't

SHARE Kirk rests after stroke, his Senate projects don't

In this Nov. 1, 2010 photo, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., looks to a crowd of supporters during a campaign rally in Wheaton, Ill. A spokesperson for Sen. Mark Kirk says the Illinois Republican has suffered a stroke and has undergone surgery early Monday, Jan. 23 2012 to relieve swelling around his brain. The 51-year-old Kirk checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois. He was later transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where tests showed that he had suffered a stroke. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

The work goes on.

Sen. Mark Kirk might be in a hospital bed recovering from a stroke.

But his colleagues in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are moving forward with the issues he has championed, from getting tough on Iran to easing visa restrictions for Poland to allowing more public-private partnerships on public transit.

The Senate Banking Committee Thursday approved a bill that would crack down on companies doing business with Iran.

Kirk campaigned on the issue and worked with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to get several provisions into the bill.

If passed by the full Senate, the bill would allow the president to impose sanctions on entities (including their directors and shareholders) such as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), which provide financial communication services to the Central Bank of Iran.

The bill would put new requirements on multinational corporations wanting to do business with the United States to disclose whether they had shared technology with Iran that the regime could use to repress its citizens.

Just before Kirk was felled by the stroke two weeks ago, he and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) toured Poland, including U.S. missile sites there, and heard from officials of Poland’s government about their impatience with the U.S. Visa program, Kirk told the Sun-Times the night before he began experiencing stroke symptoms.

Almost alone among European countries, Poland’s citizens must endure a cumbersome visa application process to visit the United States, even though the country’s citizens do not have a high rate of over-staying visas and have sent troops to serve with U.S. troops in Iran and Afghanistan.

Kirk and Quigley, who represent the part of the United States that is home to the highest concentrations of Poles outside Warsaw, have lobbied the Obama administration to drop the visa requirement.

Obama said during his own visit to Poland last year that he supported Poland joining the other 36 states in the visa waiver program. On Tuesday, Quigley introduced a bill to make that happen.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is pushing a proposal he and Kirk co-sponsored to remove impediments to public-private partnerships in the federal Transit Administration, allowing the agency to begin some experimental partnerships.

Kirk’s staff say those bipartisan efforts show Kirk’s willingness to reach across the aisle to achieve common goals. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), who worked with Kirk in proposing big spending cuts, was the first to visit Kirk in the hospital last weekend.

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