Betty McCollum was born in Minneapolis and now resides in North St. Paul. She attended a community college for two years and then earned a bachelor's in education and political science from the College of St. Catherine
McCollum spent 12 years at Sears Roebuck and managed a Casual Corner clothing store. She served on the North St. Paul City Council from 1987 to 1992
She was elected in 1992 to the state Legislature, where she served on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. At that time, she also worked as a clerk at Dayton's department store.
McCollum was elected to the U.S. House in 2000.
She is divorced and has two children.
Betty McCollum has continued to gain clout in the U.S. House since her election in 2000. She picked up a seat on the Budget Committee in 2009 to go with the seat she had already held on the Appropriations Committee. Those assignments put her in a key position for helping advance President Barack Obama's budget and his major priorities, including the 2010 health care bill and the 2009 approximately $800 billion economic stimulus package.
She's close to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and has held leadership posts in the Democratic caucus. But she works primarily behind the scenes and makes headlines relatively infrequently.
McCollum was a strong advocate for health care reform, holding town hall meetings and pushing to increase reimbursement rates in Minnesota and other states that spend health care dollars more efficiently.
McCollum held meetings in her district to show the benefits to seniors of the 2010 health care legislation and the economic activity tied to the 2009 stimulus.
In 2011 and 2012, McCollum found herself on the opposite side of several fellow Minnesota Democrats over the high-profile issue of whether to build a new bridge over the St. Croix River in Stillwater. McCollum called the project a waste of federal money, aligned herself with environmental groups opposed to it and voted against it in the House. But Democrats including Gov. Mark Dayton, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, supported the project and helped get it to Obama's desk for his signature.
McCollum got involved in politics by running for city council — and winning — when no one would heed her concerns over a city park playground where her daughter got hurt.
She won election to the Minnesota House in 1992, defeating two incumbents who were paired together in a redistricting plan. Her first run for Congress forced her to get past big names in her party before beating a solid Republican candidate and a strong third-party candidate.
When elected in 2000, McCollum was the first woman elected to the Minnesota congressional delegation in more than 40 years. She succeeded longtime Democratic Rep. Bruce Vento, who died of cancer.
McCollum's congressional district includes the city of St. Paul, along with its suburbs to the east and north. The district has been a reliable Democratic stronghold, and McCollum has rarely faced a serious challenge in holding onto it.
Committee Assignments: Appropriations; Budget
American Conservative Union Rating: 5
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 80
Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 59% (2010), 69% (2008), 70% (2006).
(Last updated by Patrick Condon on August 24, 2012.)