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Welch Becomes Illinois’ First Black Speaker Of The House

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Illinois State Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, D-Hillside, takes the Oath of Office to become the Illinois Speaker of the House for the 102nd General Assembly for the Illinois House of Representatives at the Bank of Springfield Center, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD — Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, will be the next speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives after days of closed-door meetings with fellow Democrats. 

Michael Madigan, who has been speaker for all but two years since 1983, issued a statement congratulating Welch as “speaker-elect” minutes before lawmakers were set to make the vote official.

Welch will be the state’s first Black speaker. 

“As I prepare to pass the speaker’s gavel to a new generation of Democratic leadership, I want to thank the people of my district and the members of the House Democratic Caucus for the faith and trust they have placed in me over the years,” Madigan said in a statement. “I want to thank my staff for their hard work on behalf of every member of this caucus. It has been the honor of a lifetime to help bring people of different experiences and backgrounds together to serve our state.

Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (right), D-Peoria, talks with Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, on the morning of the final day of the lame-duck session for the Illinois House of Representatives held Wednesday at the Bank of Springfield Center. Welch today will become the next House speaker. Justin Fowler/Pool/State Journal-Register

“It is time for new leadership in the House. I wish all the best for Speaker-elect Welch as he begins a historic speakership. It is my sincere hope today that the caucus I leave to him and to all who will serve alongside him is stronger than when I began. And as I look at the large and diverse Democratic majority we have built — full of young leaders ready to continue moving our state forward, strong women and people of color, and members representing all parts of our state — I am confident Illinois remains in good hands.”

Welch was expected to meet reporters for a news conference after the vote. 

This story will be updated.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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Capitol News Illinois

Capitol News Illinois

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit news service operated by the Illinois Press Foundation that provides coverage of state government to newspapers throughout Illinois. It is funded by donations from the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The mission of Capitol News Illinois is to provide credible and unbiased coverage of state government. Capitol News Illinois provides year-round, daily coverage of the Legislature, including committee hearings; state agencies and issues; state office holders; and the Illinois Supreme Court and legal matters.

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