A variety of Minnesota projects could receive millions of dollars in so-called earmarks, as the $1.1 trillion federal spending bill heads to the U.S. Senate for approval this weekend.
The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday with a vote of 221 to 202. The $1.1 trillion figure includes 5,224 earmarks totaling about $3.9 billion, according to the non-partisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
“These projects help to build healthy and vibrant communities that prosper and contribute to strengthening our economy.”Rep. Keith Ellison
Minnesota's Congressional delegation voted along party lines, with Republicans criticizing the earmarks as excessive and DFL representatives advocating for transit funding and other projects.
Rep. Jim Oberstar secured over $29 million to pay for transportation and other projects in the Eighth District. The representative's earmarks include $15 million for a jet fuel storage complex at the Duluth International Airport, $2 million for the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Project and $500,000 for the Northern Lights Express.
Congressman Keith Ellison secured over $5 million for the Fifth District, including $1.9 million for the renovation of an educational building, $400,000 for the construction of a new hyperbaric chamber for Hennepin County Medical Center, and $400,000 to install digital cameras in police squad cars.
"Many have characterized such funding as 'wasteful earmarks' or 'pork,'" Ellison said in a statement released Thursday. "They are neither. These projects help to build healthy and vibrant communities that prosper and contribute to strengthening our economy."
Rep. Betty McCollum announced about $4.4 million in funding for the Fourth District, including funds for homeless youth services, health care, and transportation.
"Each of these projects reflects an opportunity to improve the quality of life for the families I serve," McCollum said in a statement.
Rep. Tim Walz said the $4.2 million he secured will help create jobs and spur economic development in the First District.
"I am pleased to stand up for veterans, farmers, the National Guard, educators, cancer research, Highway 14 and other critical public investment projects," Walz said in a statement after the House vote.
Rep. Collin Peterson added $2 million in funding requests to the House bill, including $1 million for the Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority.
The bill was opposed by Republican representatives Michele Bachmann, John Kline, and Erik Paulsen. Bachmann and Kline declined to submit any earmark requests.
Paulsen requested $1.6 million in earmarks for transportation projects in the Third District, despite voting against the bill.
"While Congressman Paulsen has worked for months to get these projects approved, he voted no on the overall bill [Thursday] due to many problems with this massive and expensive piece of legislation," said spokesperson Andrew Foxwell via email.
The Senate plans to vote on the bill on Sunday, according to a spokesperson for Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Klobuchar has requested funding for a variety of projects, including a $300,000 program to help veterans integrate back into civilian life and $560,000 for Ramsey County Community Corrections in St. Paul to develop alternatives to detention for juvenile offenders.
Sen. Al Franken was sworn into the Senate after the deadline for many spending requests had passed, but spokeswoman Jess McIntosh said the junior senator is pushing for more than a dozen projects throughout Minnesota.
Examples include $800,000 for Anoka Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids to pay for equipment and curriculum development in medical device manufacturing and $500,000 for the University of Minnesota-Crookston's Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies.
McIntosh said the spending bill also includes funding for a program Franken introduced and Congress approved that would help disabled veterans get access to service dogs.
After the Senate vote, the final bill will be sent to President Obama for approval. The current funding resolution expires on Dec. 18.
The House bill contains funding for dozens of Minnesota-based earmark projects, including:
$100,000: Bolder Options Expansion in Rochester
$1,000,000: Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority Rehabilitation Project
$1,000,000: National Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University
$250,000: Heart of New Ulm research and demonstration project
$300,000: 55th Street Expansion in Rochester
$584,400: Construction of an interchange on Hwy 14 extending Blue Earth County Roads 12 to 17
$800,000 Interstate 94/Brockton Interchange
$400,000 Interstate 494/169 Interchange
$400,000 Hwy 610 construction
$675,000: Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, Energy Efficient Expansion of Operating Rooms for Pediatric Health Care
$450,000: Lutheran Social Services, Facilities Rehabilitation for Homeless and Runaway Youth Program
$600,000: College of St. Catherine, Innovation in Nursing Education: Using Technology to Improve Student Learning and Graduate More Nurses
$675,000: HealthEast Care System, St. John's Hospital Emergency Department Expansion Initiative
$1,000,000: City of Roseville, Twin Lakes Infrastructure Project
$250,000: Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority, Interstate 94 Transit Corridor from St. Paul to Eau Claire: Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Assessment
$200,000: Neighborhood Development Center, University Avenue Business Preparation Collaborative
$560,000: Ramsey County Community Corrections, Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative
$250,000: Family Caregiver Access Network Demonstration Project
$1,900,000: Renovations of the STARBASE Minnesota Educational Building
$250,000: Bottineau Transit project
$400,000 Construction of a new hyperbaric chamber for Hennepin County Medical Center
$400,000: Summit Academy Opportunities Industrialization Center's Green Jobs Initiative
$500,000: Grand Rounds Missing Link National Scenic Byway Project
$150,000: Northside Economic Opportunity Network in Minneapolis
$500,000: For a new downtown Minneapolis transit hub for current and future commuter and light rail lines
$400,000: Digital cameras and computers for the Minneapolis Police Department.
$300,000: Bolder Options Program in Minneapolis.
$200,000: Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis
$500,000: Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Minnesota-Crookston
$500,000: City of Moorhead SE Main Ave. project
$500,000: Northern Light Express
$400,000:Cambridge-Isanti Bike and Walking Trail
$1,200,000 City of Isanti Pedestrian Bridge over North Trunk Hwy 65
$600,000:Twin Cities to Twin Ports Trail Linkage
$3,000,000:Northstar Phase II - Extension of Northstar Rail to the Saint Cloud Area
$97,400: Northstar Phase II Commuter Buses
$711,661: Northstar Corridor Rail: Minneapolis to Big Lake
$2,000,000: Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Project
$730,500: Park Rapids Street and Utility Reconstruction Main Avenue
$450,000: Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, MNIWI
$500,000: Northeast Law Enforcement Administrators Council's Meth Reduction Project
$35,000: City of Gilbert Integrated Radio System
$500,000: Itasca County 9-11 Radio System
$500,000: St. Louis County Sheriff Regional Interoperability Data System Project
$100,000: 9th Judicial District Koochiching County DUI/Substance Abuse Court
$240,000: Minnesota State Patrol: 8th District Patrol In-Squad Digital Cameras
$200,000: Northeast Entrepreneur Fund: Greenstone Group
$200,000: Lake Superior College: Aviation certification and degree program
$550,000: College of St. Scholastica:Rural Health Technology project
$500,000: Range Regional Health Services - Pulmonary Center of Excellence
$15,000,000: Duluth International Airport's Jet Fuel Storage Complex
$1,710,000: Camp Ripley: Urban Assault Course