Killing the Economic Development Administration

Congress isn’t likely to do much to create jobs anytime soon, so when opportunities arise, ideally lawmakers would take advantage of them. Yesterday in the Senate, for example, members were asked to reauthorize the Economic Development Administration, a successful program that provides federal grants to local projects.

There was at least some hope that Republicans could support this. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), for example, said yesterday of the EDA, “I have seen firsthand that it has led to the creation of jobs in my home state and has been a catalyst for private sector investment.”

Sounds good, right? Wrong. Collins, a few hours later, voted to kill the Economic Development Administration. Indeed, Democrats needed 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster, and didn’t even come close.

A bill to fund the Economic Development Administration (EDA), a measure Democrats characterized as a “jobs bill,” was stopped from advancing in the Senate Tuesday in a 49-51 vote.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was unable to find a path forward through nearly 100 mostly nongermane amendments offered by Republicans and Democrats.

Reid said the fact that only one amendment actually dealt with the EDA was an indication that Republicans don’t actually care about job creation.

In fairness, this wasn’t entirely partisan. Most of the superfluous amendments came from the GOP, but Dems had about 30 of their own. And while every single Republican voted to block an up-or-down vote on the measure, four Senate Dems gave them a hand.

But let’s be clear about what transpired yesterday: Republicans who’ve praised the Economic Development Administration for years voted in lock step to kill a measure that would have created jobs. They did so in part because they wanted to waste time on a bunch of irrelevant amendments and Harry Reid didn’t want to let them.

The result is the apparent end of a program that even the most far-right members have embraced in the recent. Hell, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), arguably the Senate’s most right-wing member, held a workshop last year to help South Carolina businesses and organizations take advantage of EDA opportunities. Yesterday, DeMint led the fight to kill the EDA.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said last month that funds from an EDA grant “would pave the way for the creation of new jobs and business opportunities, which will strengthen the region’s economy.” He voted to kill the program, too.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said just two weeks ago that an EDA grant would bring “a much needed boost to the local economy.” He voted to kill the program, too.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has called EDA projects “key to our region’s future economic development.” He voted to kill the program, too.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) recently boasted, “I have long been a supporter of EDA programs.” He voted to kill the program, too.

It’s bad enough when Republicans rely on a bizarre ideology to stand in the way of good ideas. But what are we to think when Republicans won’t even allow a vote to fund a program they claim to like?