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      Update: McCaskill holds Columbia town hall forum

      Update: Feb. 23 at 5:05 p.m.

      Dozens of people gathered at Columbia City Hall on Wednesday afternoon to bend the ear of Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.

      McCaskill is holding a series of town hall meetings across the state this week.

      McCaskill said town hall meetings allow her to gather input, listen to the concerns of Missourians and help her make congress more transparent and accountable. She answered written questions randomly selected from a basket. Opponents of President Obama TMs Stimulus Bill and Health Care Reform told McCaskill that she is spending too much of their money.

      McCaskill said, They TMre right. That TMs why I, for over a year, I TMve been working on a spending cap with Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama who is now a ranking member of the Budget Committee in the Senate. It TMs why I, on Day 1, said I TMm not going to participate in the earmarking process that TMs arbitrary and wasteful in the way it allocates money for projects.

      McCaskill defended herself by saying she supports cutting $61 billion from the federal budget, but not the exact House Republican's Plan. The majority of Senate Democrats disagree with those cuts. McCaskill desribes the cuts she supports as "more broad", including defense spending and entitlement spending. The disagreement could lead to a government shut down on March 4.

      McCaskill said, This really balances me. It reminds me that I am so blessed to represent a state where people are pretty evenly divided on a lot of different subjects. It TMs great to get that balance when you come out here and visit with a room full of folks like this.

      McCaskill is up for re-election next year. Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson announced Tuesday that she would not seek the Republican nomination for Senate. Former Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman and Governor Matt Blunt TMs former Chief of Staff Ed Martin are the only 2 Republicans wanting to challenge McCaskill for her Senate seat.

      Columbia police provided extra security during McCaskill TMs town hall meeting in light of the recent shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

      Original Story:

      Senator Claire McCaskill will make stops in Mid-Missouri Wednesday.As part of her town hall meetings this week, Senator McCaskill will be in Columbia to talk with Missourians about how to clean up Congress. The town hall is scheduled for 1:30 Wednesday afternoon at Columbia City Hall. McCaskill TMs press officials said due to high demand and limited seating, registration for Wednesday TMs Columbia town hall is closed.McCaskill said the town hall meeting is in an effort bring some "Show-Me' TM State common sense to Washington. She said she wants to gather input from her constituents and bring in back to the Nation TMs Capitol.McCaskill held a town hall meetings in Franklin County on Monday. She was in St. Louis Tuesday to discuss the issues at the VA Hospital regarding unclean surgical tools. McCaskill will make a stop in Blue Springs, near Kansas City, on Thursday for her final town hall meeting this week.Before the Columbia town hall forum, Senator McCaskill will make a stop in Jefferson City for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Chamber Day.Governor Jay Nixon, Senator Roy Blunt and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler will also be at Wednesday TMs Chamber event at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.Meanwhile, Southeast Missouri Congresswoman Jo-Ann Emerson said she will not seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012. Emerson said she can best serve Missouri and her district in the House of Representatives.Two other Republicans will compete to challenge McCaskill for her Senate seat: former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman and St. Louis attorney, Ed Martin.