Missouri’s Republican U.S. senators are being blasted by labor leaders for refusing to add local projects to a recently-passed federal budget bill.

The process, known as earmarks, involves adding millions of dollars to the federal budget to fund various projects back home. The Missouri and Kansas Laborers District Council defends earmarks, saying they include highways and other infrastructure projects that often create jobs. But Missouri’s junior Senator Eric Schmitt said earmarks are one of the main reasons the federal budget remains unbalanced.

“We’re $35 trillion in debt, on our way to $40 trillion in debt. The interest on our debt now is a trillion dollars a year, it’s more than we spend on our military. And earmarks are a big problem and a big reason why,” Schmitt told Missourinet. “It’s pork barrel spending that’s directed, that goes on top of our typical budgets – and so I’m not going to contribute to that.”

Senior Missouri Senator Josh Hawley called earmarks “pet projects” used for political gain and said they should be outlawed.

“These people think nothing of spending hundreds of millions – billions of dollars when you put it all together – all for their little projects that they can then try to use for political game,” Hawley said. “If you want support for a program, get it through the regular legislative process. This pork barrel spending that they slip in at the last moment, and nobody has a chance to vote on individually, I just think that’s wrong.”

The Missouri Kansas Laborers’ District Council said the most recent federal budget bill contained $468 billion in infrastructure projects, but only $95 million for projects in Missouri.

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