Ed Pastor: What are you calling pork?

AzCentral:

Rep. Ed Pastor has an ear for earmarks and no qualms about directing federal cash to local projects that critics might characterize as pork.

The veteran Arizona Democrats accommodating attitude toward spending puts him at odds with Republican Capitol Hill colleagues such as Sen. John McCain and Rep. Jeff Flake.

But observers say it also helps make Pastor, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, the most influential member of the states House delegation, particularly in a changing political climate marked by President Barack Obamas progressive policies and government activism.

Whatever my constituents ask for, I try to meet their needs. When youre an appropriator, obviously, you are able to do things, so I try to help as much as I can, Pastor said in an interview with The Arizona Republic. The situation is there is need all over the state.

And:

An earmarks worth is in the eye of the beholder, said Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., a member of the influential House Appropriations Committee whose name is attached to assorted omnibus earmarks worth more than $128.5 million.

Ninety-eight percent of the budget and projects are determined by the president; 2 percent are determined by the entire Congress, both the Senate and the House. For all practical purposes, most of the earmarks are going to cities, towns, states or hospitals and educational institutions.

Pastor pointed to the upgraded control tower at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as a vital local project that started as an earmark. The recently opened Metro light rail began with an earmark to study its feasibility, he said.

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