Between them, U.S. Congressmen Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, and Phil Hare, D-Rock Island, have requested more than $535 million in earmarks for fiscal year 2010, with a significant portion of that being sought for local projects.|
Rep. Hare asked for nearly $400 million in congressional funding for the 17th District. His requests include $22.7 million to build passenger rail service from the Quad-Cities to Chicago and $10 million toward a new I-74 Mississippi River bridge.
Although earmarks sometimes get a bad rap, with the term often being associated with sneaky, pork barrel politics, both Rep. Hare and Rep. Braley stand behind the benefits of earmarks in their respective districts.
"I believe one of my responsibilities as a member of Congress is to ensure my constituents get a return on the money they send to Washington," Rep. Hare said Wednesday.
"During these tough economic times, I believe it is more important than ever that we invest in the 17th District. I will work hard to secure funding for as many of these projects as possible."
Federal stimulus money also is being pursued for the passenger rail project, but is not yet a sure thing, hence Rep. Hare's congressional funding request. Rep. Hare already has helped secure $475,000 in earmarks for the $23 million project.
"It's your money. If they want to call this pork, give me the fork and spoon," he said. "If they don't like the term earmark, they can call it a member initiative. I just call it a payment for a project that's very needed in this area."
New House rules require legislators to post all upcoming earmark requests on their Web sites. Rep. Hare voluntarily began doing that last year.
"I have supported several earmark reforms and will continue to ensure this process is carried out with transparency and accountability," he said.
More than $100 million of Rep. Hare's funding requests are for projects in the Quad-Cities, including $18 million for Rock Island Arsenal. More than $150 million in requests are for U.S. Corps of Engineers waterway projects, many in this area.
Rep. Braley plans to request more than $150 million in earmarks for the 1st District. He's seeking more than $40 million for Scott County projects, including $14 million for the Rock Island Arsenal and $2 million for the I-74 bridge project, which was recently deemed to be not shovel ready enough to receive stimulus funds.
Rep Braley said Wednesday he always has believed that bringing money back to the district is an important role a legislator plays, making sure that district residents aren't forgotten by the federal government.
He said he prioritizes earmarks based on the long-term benefits it would bring to the targeted community, and the kind of jobs it could preserve or create. He also considers whether it would be "the type of thing the U.S. taxpayer would be proud of," he said.
For a full list of Rep. Hare's funding requests, visit: www. hare.house.gov
For a full list of Rep. Braley's funding requests, visit: www.braley.house.gov
Staff writer Anthony Watt contributed to this story.