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Daley, Durbin, Defend Earmarks

By Kevin Robinson in News on Mar 17, 2009 2:20PM

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin met with the press Monday outside of the Shedd Aquarium to defend the practice of earmarks - directing federal spending to specific projects, often in a congressman's own district or state. The two Democrats were referring specifically to $4 million set aside to fund reconstruction of a portion of the city's crumbling shoreline.

"They are defensible," Durbin told the press. "What major earmarks we put in the bill have to do with major problems. . . This is an investment in the future of the major asset of the City of Chicago." Durbin said that if legislators don't have a say in how funds are spent, the decision will be left to bureaucrats in the executive branch, who may not have the knowledge to understand a specific state or districts needs. "It is vital for the legislative body to speak out," Daley chimed in. "It isn't just the executive branch."

Over $350 million has already been spent reinforcing the city shoreline since 1999, and just over $190 million of that has come from federal funds. Durbin acknowledged that some congressmen abuse the process, however, and voiced support for President Obama's pledges to reform the process. "We will stand with him to make sure the system is cleaned up," the senator said.