PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the partial federal government shutdown is threatening research on antibiotics at the Peoria Ag Lab.
Most of the Ag Lab’s 250 employees were furloughed as part of the federal government shutdown. Currently, researchers are working on potential new treatments to overcome antibiotic-resistant bacteria. More than 23,000 Americans are killed by antibiotic resistance every year.
“Here in Peoria President Trump’s shutdown impacts the lab’s employees who are not able to work and are not getting paid. This means important research that could have significant impacts on our health and on agriculture in Illinois—including preliminary testing building on a recent discovery at the lab that amplifies the effectiveness of antibiotics—has been put on hold,” Durbin said at a Monday press conference . “Senate Republicans should pass and the President should sign the House-passed bill to reopen our government, reopen our labs, and put federal employees back to work.”
The federal government shut down last year after funding ran out amid a battle between President Donald Trump and Democrats over funding for a wall along the United States’ southern border.
Local AFGE Union President, Ashley Maness, said, “We are real people over at the Ag Lab. Federal workers are regular Americans and we shouldn’t have out lives held hostage for a political agenda.”
Republican Representative Darn LaHood said he stands by the Ag Lab too.
“There’s been no stronger advocate for the Ag Lab than myself, in a bi-partisan way, making sure that we keep it open and support the great work that goes on there,” said LaHood.
LaHood added, “There’s a balancing we can find here and I think in a bi-partisan way, we have to figure it out and end this government shutdown.”