Current Position: US Representative for IL District 17 since 2012
Former Position(s): Journalism, healthcare executive from 1983 – 2021
bustos.house.gov, – August 16, 2021
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) was named the winner for the Congressional Management Foundation’s (CMF) highly competitive and distinguished Democracy Awards in the constituent service category. The award recognizes Congresswoman Bustos for excellence in the way her office interacts with, assists and serves residents of Illinois’ 17th Congressional District. This distinction ranks Congresswoman Bustos’ office as the top Democratic office in Congress – which includes both the House and Senate.
“Every morning, my staff and I show up to work motivated by the belief that government should work for the people,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “It’s this mentality that drives every aspect of our operation, especially constituent services. As our country faces the impact of COVID-19, our team is focused on helping the people of Northwest and Central Illinois navigate the vital resources they need and rebuild our economy. I’m honored to have our team recognized in this critical service and proud of what our office is able to accomplish for Illinoisans every day.”
Source: Government page
That’s why on just about any given Saturday, you can find her walking the aisles of one of the many grocery stores across the 17th Congressional District, in what she calls “Supermarket Saturdays.” From cities like Moline, Rockford and Peoria, to smaller communities like Canton, Kewanee and Galena, she walks the aisles to ask folks what’s on their minds, what they want her to know, what they want her to fight for or fight against. And she wants to know about them personally:
Have they been able to take their family on a vacation in the last year?
When their kids graduate, are they going to be able to find a job in their hometown?
Since Cheri was first elected, she has gone out on “Cheri on Shift” job shadowing stops. During those visits, she has walked in the shoes of hardworking men and women from all over our community. Sure, she’s learned how to drive a forklift, spot weld on cars and even process carp from the Mississippi River– but what she really values most about these interactions is having the opportunity to ask workers about their hopes and dreams: whether their pay is keeping up with their bills, and what’s holding back our businesses from expanding. She listens for their insight, their ideas and their input so she can bring their voices to Washington.
Listening is something that comes naturally to Cheri. As one of the only former journalists in Congress, Cheri spent nearly two decades listening to and writing about the struggles and the amazing accomplishments of everyday people across her community. While she’s hung up her press pass, she still uses her pen to fight for the values that unite us as Midwesterners – creating more good-paying jobs, bringing down the cost of health care, investing in our schools and fighting wasteful spending and hurtful government practices.
Now in her fourth term in Congress, Cheri is the only member of elected Democratic House Leadership from the Midwest. She also serves on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. In both of these roles, she is a relentless advocate for steering the Democratic agenda to address the very real economic challenges millions of Americans struggle with at the kitchen table each night.
Cheri has also remained committed to serving as a Watchdog in Washington. At a time when many hardworking families are tightening their belts, she’s relentlessly worked across the aisle to ensure Illinoisans’ hard-earned tax dollars are put to good use. Her efforts have resulted in legislation decreasing improper payments from Federal agencies, strengthening the oversight of government charge cards and ensuring Federal agencies maximize their space and manufacturing capacity before outsourcing work. Cheri is also a founding member of the bi-partisan Reformers Caucus which exclusively focuses on reforms to Congress and the legislative process.
In the 116th Congress, Cheri was appointed to the powerful House Appropriations Committee. On this committee, Cheri will have the opportunity to ensure the needs of our region are being met and properly funded by the federal government – whether that be investments in our region’s defense priorities, infrastructure, schools or rural hospitals. Additionally, since the Appropriations Committee provides funds for the entire federal government, Cheri will be well positioned to ensure federal dollars are being spent wisely and do not go to waste.
Cheri also continues to serve on the House Agriculture Committee, where in her first term she played an important role to develop and pass the first long-term Farm Bill in years. Then, in her third term, she continued that work by serving as a member of the Farm Bill Conference Committee where she helped lead efforts to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill that provided farmers with the support they need to continue putting food on the plates of Americans across our nation. While working on this key piece of legislation, she conducted a 21st Century Heartland Tour to better understand the needs of our family farmers. Sitting around kitchen tables, in barns and garages across the 17th Congressional District, she asked hundreds of our farmers and agricultural producers what worked for them in the last Farm Bill and what they needed from a new one.
Through all her work, Cheri remains devoted to this: “We were born with two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
Cheri knows that if we want to put hardworking families first once again, we need Washington to spend a lot more time listening to the Heartland.
Additional background about Cheri’s life before Congress:
Born in Springfield, Illinois, Cheri Callahan Bustos comes from a long line of farmers and teachers and grew up in a family that loved sports and their community.
The granddaughter of a hog farmer and a nurse and the daughter of a social worker and a newsman, Cheri was the youngest of three children.
Her dad would go on to work in public service and Major League Baseball. Her mom would go on to be a preschool teacher. She is proud of her agricultural roots.
She followed her dad into the news business. While covering the police beat as a reporter in the Quad-Cities, Cheri met a rookie cop named Gerry Bustos who she fell in love with and married. With Gerry, who now serves as the Sheriff of Rock Island County, they raised three sons and they now have two grandchildren, all of whom proudly call Illinois home.
Throughout her career in journalism, Cheri used her pen to help her community. She uncovered numerous stories of corruption and greed in government, winning awards for her work on behalf of the public interest.
After a career in investigative journalism, Cheri worked in health care before, during and after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, for one of the nation’s largest non-denominational, non-profit health care systems. There, she helped families access affordable coverage and worked to improve the quality of health care available in the community.
Cheri has long been active in her community and served on numerous nonprofit boards and as the President of The Women’s Connection, which was at the time one of Illinois’ largest women’s membership organizations. In 2007, Cheri’s commitment to public service and desire to further give back to the community led her to run for local office.
Cheri was elected to serve on the City Council in East Moline for two terms and made her top priority economic development. She led the removal of downtown blight and the development of the largest construction project in downtown East Moline in generations: a nonprofit health clinic.
In 2013, she was sworn into her first term in Congress, representing the hardworking families of the 17th Congressional District. And she hasn’t stopped fighting for them ever since.
Cheri earned her Bachelor’s Degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. She also attended Illinois College in Jacksonville, where both her parents and son graduated. An accomplished basketball and volleyball player, Cheri was inducted into the Illinois College Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
For a copy of Congresswoman Bustos’ a high-resolution photo and additional materials, please see Rep. Cheri Bustos’ Media Kit.
- New Democrat Coalition
- Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus
- Blue Collar Caucus
WASHINGTON, DC OFFICE
1233 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Hours: M-F 9-5:00pm
820 SW Adams St.
Peoria, IL 61602
Phone: (309) 966-1813
ROCK ISLAND OFFICE
2401 4th Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201
Phone: (309) 786-3406
Fax: (309) 786-3720
119 N. Church St.
Rockford, IL 61101
Phone: (815) 968-8011
Cheryl Lea “Cheri” Bustos (// BOOST-ohss; née Callahan; October 17, 1961) is an American journalist, healthcare executive, and politician who is the U.S. Representative from Illinois’s 17th congressional district since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, she is the first woman elected to Congress from her district in the northwestern part of the state, anchored by the Illinois side of the Quad Cities and partially including Peoria and Rockford. In 2019, Bustos became chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
Elected to the East Moline City Council in 2007, Bustos defeated Republican incumbent Bobby Schilling in the 2012 election and a 2014 rematch. As of 2021, Bustos and Senator Dick Durbin are the only Democrats in Illinois’s congressional delegation who are not from the Chicago area. On April 30, 2021, she announced that she would retire at the end of the 117th Congress.
Early life, education, and private sector career
Bustos was born in Springfield, Illinois, one of three children of Gene and Ann Callahan. Her grandfather Joseph R. Callahan was a hog farmer and a state legislator. “We had governors over to our house. We had lieutenant governors”, Bustos has said.
Her father worked for The State Journal-Register, then served as assistant press secretary to Governor Samuel Shapiro, press secretary to Lieutenant Governor Paul Simon, and chief of staff to U.S. Senator Alan Dixon. As a girl she babysat Dick Durbin’s children. Her mother worked as a teacher.
Bustos graduated from Springfield High School in 1979. She attended Illinois College, then transferred to the University of Maryland, College Park, from which she received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1983. She went on to receive a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois Springfield in 1985.
From 2001 to 2007, Bustos worked as senior director of corporate communications for Trinity Regional Health Systems. From 2008 to 2011, she worked as vice president of corporate communications for Iowa Health System; in her last full year, she received overall compensation of $306,295.
East Moline City Council
In 2007, Bustos ran for the East Moline City Council from that city’s 4th Ward. She won the Democratic primary with 45% of the vote, and won the general election unopposed. In 2011, she was reelected unopposed.
Before being elected in 2007, Bustos served on East Moline’s Citizen Advisory Committee and the East Moline Plan Commission. In 2009, she received an Athena Business Women’s Award.
In February 2010, Bustos secured state and federal money to purchase a $40,000 electronic welcome sign that was placed at the border of East Moline.
In August 2010, Bustos voted for water and sewer rate hikes. In January 2011, she expressed interest in charging residents who do not recycle extra fees to lower the city’s landfill costs. In April 2011, Bustos voted for a budget that raised property taxes 4.9% and raised garbage collection fees, saying, “these decisions have been made thoughtfully and thoroughly and during the course of 17 open and public budget sessions.” She also supported water and sewage increases.
Bustos was criticized for voting for a $624,000 project to improve 10th Street in East Moline, which runs adjacent to her house; the Schilling campaign dubbed it the “Bustos Parkway.” Schilling’s claim was called “reckless, irresponsible fiction” by the editorial board of the Quad-City Times.
After being elected to a second term in May 2011, Bustos resigned in September to focus on her campaign for Congress.
- East Moline Downtown Revitalization Committee (Founded and Chaired)
U.S. House of Representatives
Bustos was endorsed by about two dozen unions active in the 17th congressional district, including the Illinois AFL-CIO, AFSCME and the United Auto Workers. During the primary, she was endorsed by Dick Durbin. Durbin asked State Senator Dave Koehler and Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp to drop out of the race to clear the way for Bustos, a close family friend of his. Gaulrapp reported that during a meeting with Durbin about withdrawing, Durbin said that Bustos had babysat for his family and was a close friend. Bustos won the Democratic primary on March 20, 2012, defeating Gaulrapp and businessman Greg Aguilar 54%–26%–20%.
In the general election, Bustos was one of 39 candidates considered to be the most viable challengers against Republican incumbents to benefit from “Red to Blue” program offered by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She was endorsed by the Quad-City Times. In November, she defeated incumbent Republican Bobby Schilling 53%–47%. She received a significant boost from redistricting, which replaced Quincy, Decatur and the district’s portion of Springfield with the more Democratic portions of Peoria and Rockford. She is the first Democrat to represent a significant portion of Peoria since 1927, and only the second Democrat since the 1850s to represent a significant portion of Rockford.
Bustos was challenged by Schilling for reelection in 2014.
In a 2012 interview with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, Bustos expressed support for legislation that would cut congressional pay by 10%. When asked by a member of the board if she would voluntarily give up 10% of her pay should the legislation fail, she said she would. During the 2014 campaign, she said, “When I was in Chicago, I said something that I shouldn’t have said, but I never said it on the campaign trail. I never made it as a promise to the people in the 17th congressional district.” The Tribune endorsed Schilling.
In a long profile of Bustos on May 12, 2017, Politico noted that in 2016 she was the only Democrat to win a House seat by a more than 20-point margin in a district that Trump also won. “If Democrats are going to wrest control of the House from Republicans, argue many party strategists, it’s going to happen in large part by doing more of whatever it is Bustos is doing three hours west of Chicago in her nearly 7,000-square-mile district of small towns and soybean fields”, Politico wrote. Calling her “one of the party’s rising stars”, Politico quoted her as saying, “I’m a little bit of a different kind of Democrat.”
In the 2018 election, Bustos was challenged by Bill Fawell, a real estate broker who attracted media attention for his conspiracy claims that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job perpetrated by the U.S. government. Bustos was reelected with 61.9% of the vote to Fawell’s 38.1%.
Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
For the 2020 election, Bustos resigned from the office of the Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee because the Democrats had lost over 10 seats when they were expected to make gains. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi placed her in the position of co-chair of the House Democratic Steering Committee, replacing Rosa DeLauro, who was chosen as chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Potential runs for other offices
During the election for Speaker of the United States House of Representatives in January 2019, Bustos received 4 votes, from Joe Cunningham of South Carolina; Jared Golden of Maine; Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey; and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, instead of their party’s nominee, Nancy Pelosi.
- Committee on Agriculture
- Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
- Committee on Appropriations
Shortly after taking office, Bustos joined the bipartisan No Labels group. In the first session of the 115th United States Congress, she was ranked the 28th most bipartisan member of the House by the Bipartisan Index, a metric published by The Lugar Center and Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy to assess congressional bipartisanship.
Bustos has said she wants to create a “manufacturing triangle” connecting Peoria, the Quad Cities, and Rockford and anchored by Caterpillar, John Deere, and the aerospace industry, respectively. She supports putting in place job-training programs at area community colleges to better prepare workers for skilled jobs in manufacturing.
She does not support lowering salaries or pensions for federal government employees.
In 2016, Bustos sponsored legislation exempting minor league baseball players from minimum wage laws.
In March 2012 Bustos called for cuts in defense spending.
In August 2015, Bustos announced her support for President Barack Obama‘s Iran nuclear deal. “While the agreement is not perfect, it is the right step for our national security and the security of the global community”, she said. “With this agreement, Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium will be reduced and the country will be opened up to strict transparency and monitoring, including robust on-the-ground nuclear inspectors”.
In October 2015, Bustos went to Cuba on a trip organized by the Illinois Cuba Working Group. In January 2016, she backed a bill to remove barriers to trade with Cuba. In March 2016, Bustos was part of the congressional delegation that took part in Obama’s trip to Cuba and said that Cuba represented a “huge trade opportunity” for the US “when it comes to agriculture.”
In a December 2016 interview, Bustos said she would “make every attempt to work with President Donald Trump where we can find common ground” but “if he takes us down a dark place, then we’re going to have a fight on our hands.” During an April 2017 interview, she “verbally thrashed President Trump”. The same month, she said that his first 100 days in office had been “a disaster” and that his health care plan would rip out “the beating heart of rural America.” Politico described her as “practically…taunting Trump”. She said that if she were president, “in my first 100 days, I’d want to have a lot of wins—and, you know, I wouldn’t want to have wins that I have to lie about.”
In December 2017, Bustos signed a letter asking for a House investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct against Trump.
In February 2018, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan announced that a group of three legislators, including Bustos, would serve on an independently funded panel that would “lead a statewide discussion about the role of women in the Democratic party and how to ‘change the culture of politics.'” In April, she withdrew from the panel, citing criticism by the House Ethics Committee and legal advisers.
Bustos was one of six House Democrats to vote against the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to legalize cannabis at the federal level in 2020. She said she voted against it because it lacked clarity on what constitutes a nonviolent offense.
Health care and abortion
Bustos supports the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare). She supports legal abortion. She also supported Obama’s order that all health plans cover birth control and “morning after” pills.
|Democratic||Cheri Bustos (incumbent)||55||100.0|
|Republican||Bobby Schilling (incumbent)||134,623||46.72|
|Write-in votes||Eric Reyes||10||0.00|
|Write-in votes||Joe Faber||9||0.00|
|Democratic||Cheri Bustos (incumbent)||110,560||55.46|
|Write-in votes||Bill Fawell||16||0.01|
|Democratic||Cheri Bustos (incumbent)||173,125||60.31|
|Democratic||Cheri Bustos (incumbent)||142,659||62.09|
|Republican||William W. “Bill” Fawell||87,090||37.91|
|Democratic||Cheri Bustos (incumbent)||156,011||52.02||-10.07%|
|Republican||Esther Joy King||143,863||47.97||+10.06%|
Bustos met and married Gerry Bustos, a Quad Cities local, not long after moving to the Quad Cities. He is the Rock Island County Sheriff and commander of the Quad City Bomb Squad. They have three sons and two grandchildren.
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- Patrick Harlan wins GOP nomination for 17th Congressional District (JournalStandard.com)
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- Bustos says she won’t run for Senate, praises Duckworth (Washington Times)
- Bustos mentioned as possible ’18 governor candidate (Quad-City Times)
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- Tibbetts, Ed. “Bustos says she’ll vote for Iran deal”. Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
- Welvaert, Todd. “Bustos to back Iranian pact: ‘best path forward‘“. The Rock Island Dispatch-Argus. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
- Rovito, Rich (January 6, 2016). “Illinois Pols Forge Cuba Connection”. Better Government Association. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- Schoenburg, Bernard. “Durbin, Bustos see opportunity in Cuba”. The State Journal-Register. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
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- Aguilera, Jasmine (June 16, 2016). “House Members Unite to Read Stanford Rape Victim’s Letter”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
This is why we need more women
- Sfondeles, Tina (February 18, 2018). “Madigan taps trio of women, including Bustos, to change ‘culture of politics‘“. Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- Sfondeles, Tina (April 18, 2018). “Congresswoman Bustos opts out of Madigan’s anti-harassment panel”. Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- Daly, Matthew (December 4, 2020). “House votes to decriminalize marijuana at federal level”. Associated Press. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
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- “Election Results 2014 GENERAL ELECTION”. Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved November 4, 2019.[permanent dead link]
- “Election Results 2016 GENERAL ELECTION”. Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved November 4, 2019.[permanent dead link]
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- Service, MCT News; Media, Shaw. “New sheriff in Rock Island County has familiar name”. www.saukvalley.com.
- “Cheri Bustos tests positive for COVID-19”.
- Representative Cheri Bustos official U.S. House website
- Cheri Bustos for Congress
- Cheri Bustos at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN
Source: Government page
- Subcommittee on Defense
- Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
- Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs