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Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MICHAUD. I rise today to offer an amendment to restore funding to the Economic Development Administration. EDA is the only Federal Agency with the single mission of creating high-quality jobs here at home. The investments made by EDA in all of our districts lead to economic development and job creation.

By law, EDA projects require a 50 percent local share and must leverage significant private sector investment. As a result, EDA funding goes to projects that have been developed and vetted by local leaders and businesses. Their investments are competitive, merit-based, and are based on regional comprehensive economic development strategies. As a result, EDA projects reflect local priorities and contribute to broader economic development in the area. But most importantly, all EDA investments must result in the creation and retention of high-quality jobs.

The program has a strong track record of success in my home State of Maine and throughout the country. In fact, between 2005 and 2010, EDA investments have helped to create over 314,000 jobs nationwide. At a time when our economic recovery continues to be slow and millions of Americans are out of a job, it does not make sense to cut the one Federal program singly dedicated to funding projects to put them back to work.

My amendment will maintain level funding for EDA, and it is offset by cuts to the periodic census and programs account, which is currently funded at 3 1/2 times that of EDA. Even though the next census is 8 years away, the overall census program was cut by just under $10 million. EDA was cut by $38 million. Reducing the census account by $38 million is only a 6 percent decrease. By cutting EDA by the same amount is a 17 percent decrease in their funding. Some might come to the floor today to criticize EDA or its investment.

I agree that we should do everything we can to make sure this and other Federal programs work well. But cutting EDA's funding or eliminating it altogether would be shortsighted at a time when we need every job-creating tool at our disposal.

My amendment continues level funding for a program that is uniquely designed to address almost any economic development activity. It continues funding for a program that has specific tools and expertise to address chronically poor and distressed areas, post-disastrous economic recovery, and the consequences of plant closures or downsizing.

I am offering this amendment because I believe it is the wrong time to turn our backs on investments in our communities that will make a real difference and because I believe that it is the right time to get our priorities right and insist on Federal investments that are focused on job creation. I offered this amendment last year, and more than 300 Members of the House joined me in voting to restore EDA funding. I urge my colleagues to join me once again this year and help pass this amendment to restore the funding to EDA and to support a proven job creator.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. MICHAUD. Madam Chair, I rise today in strong opposition to this amendment to eliminate funding for EDA. As was mentioned earlier, EDA is the only Federal program whose focus is to create jobs. The program funds merit-based competitive grants for projects that also require local funding. EDA's grant decision process is void of political influence and awards grants based on merit. The economy is improving, but we're not back on our feet yet; 12 million Americans are out there still looking for work. Now is not the time to eliminate this program.

My friend from Kansas calls EDA a wealth-distribution program and argues that it picks winners and losers. The financial crisis picked winners and losers. In contrast, the EDA is bound by law to provide investments only to communities experiencing economic distress; 305 Members of the House from both parties, including the gentleman from Kansas, voted to fully fund this program last year. So I urge my colleagues to once again support the EDA in a vote against this amendment to eliminate the program.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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