U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., on Tuesday defended congressional earmarks, saying limits have been put in place and that the money spent on them represents only a small part of the overall federal budget.
Republican House leaders have called for a moratorium on the earmark process, which allows members of Congress to fund specific projects in their states or districts. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has said he also supports a ban on earmarks.
But McCollum said she's concerned about the $45 million earmark pending before the House for the Central Corridor light rail project. She said the project is worthwhile and will create thousands of jobs.
"[Earmarks are] one half of one percent of the entire federal budget," McCollum told MPR's Morning Edition. "This is for local communities. I'm a big supporter of local control, especially when it comes to spending some of our tax dollars."
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McCollum said she is working with the Obama administration to save Central Corridor from Republican cuts.
While the light rail project is a priority, McCollum said there are other earmarks she's supported in past years, such as money for the Harriet Tubman crisis centers in the Twin Cities.
"That's a community project that the community came together and said, 'Would you help us fund this,'" she said.
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