The Senate failed to move forward on a bill funding the Economic Development Administration (EDA) yesterday, voting against cloture 49 to 51. Created in 1965, the EDA exists “to generate jobs, help retain existing jobs, and stimulate industrial and commercial growth in economically distressed areas of the United States.” Every single Republican voted against cloture, spurring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to lambast Republicans this morning for caring “more about partisan politics than putting people back to work.” The “jobs deficit” is “just as critical as our budget deficit,” he said.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), however, scoffed at the idea that the EDA bill even came close to the importance of the budget deficit “calamity” on the Senate floor today. Corker implored senators to reveal a deficit reduction plan rather than waste time on the EDA reauthorization bill, which, to Corker, was simply political “filler” that amounted to “doing almost nothing of importance for this country”:
CORKER: I implore the folks that are meeting behind closed doors — I implore them to come forward and to outline the goals they’re trying to achieve and when they think they’re going to achieve it so that all of us that are sitting around here cooling our heels — doing nothing — doing almost nothing of importance for this country. I mean, the senator of Illinois talked about the EDA bill, we all knew it wasn’t going to pass. Everybody knew that.
Everybody knew that that bill was offered on the floor to kill time — to make it look like the United States Senate was doing something. That’s all it was for. Everybody knew that, everybody working up front knew that, the pages knew that. Everybody knew that. So for people to come down here and act like it’s a shock that cloture wasn’t achieved on EDA when we knew it was just here for filler is kind of surprising. We knew what it was about.
But two years ago, Corker was only too pleased to “kill time” praising the EDA’s work. In 2009, Corker and Tennessee colleague Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) celebrated an infrastructure grant from the EDA for their home state. Corker called the grant a great way to “protect jobs, and support economic growth in the region. In the midst of an economic crisis, projects like these are just the kinds of things that will renew confidence and reinvigorate private investment in the area.” Accurate praise, given that EDA investments has created about 1,000 jobs for Tennesseans in the last year alone. Since January of 2011, the EDA grants will create or save more than 4,700 jobs across the country.
Perhaps Corker should pass the time considering why the EDA’s job creation is worthy of praise in 2009 but is not worthy of the GOP’s supposed “jobs agenda” in 2011. Given that jobs are still Americans’ top priority, it’s hard to see how Corker and the Senate GOP’s dismissal of a jobs bill is anything but a miscarriage of responsibility and a general waste of time.