Betty Louise McCollum (born July 12, 1954) is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 4th congressional district, serving since 2001. She is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL).
The district centers on St. Paul, Minnesota's capital city. She is the second woman elected to Congress from Minnesota.
Early life, education and career
McCollum was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is the older sister to Anthony and Monica.
She is divorced and has two children. McCollum has worked as a high school social sciences teacher and as a sales manager. She first got involved in politics in 1986, when her daughter got hurt on a slide in a North St. Paul city park. The city council wouldn't do anything to fix the slide, so McCollum's neighbors encouraged her to run for a spot on the council herself. She won that November and served three terms. She then challenged longtime state representative Rich O'Conner in the DFL primary and won an upset victory. She went on to serve four terms in the state house.
U.S. House of Representatives
McCollum is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, where she is the only Minnesotan. At the start of the 111th Congress, McCollum was also appointed to the United States House Budget Committee.
Under normal circumstances, House Democrats aren't allowed to serve on another committee when they also serve on one of the chamber's four exclusive "A" committees—Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, Rules, and Ways and Means. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and committee chairman Henry Waxman granted McCollum a waiver allowing her to take a second committee slot. McCollum served on the Government Reform Committee during her first term in Congress.
She is the first Minnesota woman elected to Congress since Coya Knutson in the 1950s. In January, 2007 she was joined by the first Republican woman elected from Minnesota — Michele Bachmann of the 6th district.
McCollum received a 91% progressive rating from a self-described non-partisan group that provides a "searchable database of Congressional voting records from a Progressive perspective" and scored a 13% conservative rating by the conservative group, SBE Council.
Representative McCollum has supported the interests of Pro-Choice interest groups such as Planned Parenthood, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Most of these groups have the same main goals.
One example would be the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association which aims to provide access to “family planning and reproductive health care services and to support reproductive freedom for all”. She indicated on the 2002 National Political Awareness Test that she believed abortions should always be legally available, but only within the first trimester of pregnancy.
The entire time Representative McCollum has been in office, she has supported gay civil rights. The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. They have continually approved of her voting record. In one speech opposing the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, she stated, "Gay and lesbian Americans are citizens who must never be treated as second class citizens".
She has supported the interests of the elderly with regard to preserving social security.
She has supported organizations such as the Alliance for Retired Americans and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, who share the mission to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens so that they may enjoy lives of dignity, personal and family fulfillment and security. In a position paper, Representative McCollum defended her position on Social Security. She stated, "We can secure the future of Social Security with common sense and a shared, bipartisan commitment to economic security and fiscal responsibility for all Americans. This is my commitment, and you can count on me to work to protect Social Security and to find a solution that truly protects the retirement security of every American."
McCollum advocates shifting America's energy consumption to cleaner, non carbon based sources. McCollum, along with Al Franken, and Kit Bond presented Congress with the Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act. The plan would utilize thermal energy sources and create renewable energy production tax credits. She also voted in favor of American Recovery and Reinvestment in 2009.
In 2004, McCollum gained national visibility when she and fellow Democrat, Jim McDermott of Washington called for Secretary of Education Rod Paige to resign for claiming the National Education Association was "a terrorist organization."
McCollum made headlines in February 2011 when she voted to end military sponsorship of NASCAR teams. The amendment failed 148-241. She also introduced an amendment in June, 2011 to cut funding for military bands by $125 million dollars which could lead to the loss of over 3000 jobs in all branches of the Department of Defense.
McCollum opposes Conceal-and-Carry legislation, and in November 2011 she voted against Right-to-Carry reciprocity.
After 4th District Congressman Bruce Vento decided not to seek a 13th term due to illness in 2000 (he died before the election), McCollum won the DFL nomination to succeed him. The district is heavily Democratic (only the neighboring 5th District is considered more Democratic), and Democrats have held the seat since 1949. However, McCollum's main concern wasn't Republican Linda Runbeck, but Independence Party candidate Tom Foley. Foley had previously been county attorney for Ramsey County (almost all of which is in the 4th District) as a Democrat. Many thought that Foley could siphon off enough votes from McCollum to allow Runbeck to sneak up the middle and end the long run of Democratic dominance in the district. However, in the end McCollum defeated Runbeck by a solid 17-point margin, with Foley in a distant third place. Foley only managed to hold McCollum to 48 percent of the vote, making her the only Democrat not to win at least 50 percent of the vote since Democrats began their current run in the district. The district has since reverted to form, and McCollum has been reelected five times without serious opposition.
In 2008, McCollum endorsed Barack Obama for president.
December 5th, 2011