This was a vote on a motion to end debate (known as a “cloture motion”) on legislation authorizing federal funding for economic development programs operated by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Area Redevelopment Administration (ARA). Cloture motions require at least 60 votes for passage.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) urged senators to vote to end debate on the economic development bill, which would have allowed the measure to come to final, up-or-down vote: “The ARA was championed by another Illinois Senator and the man who gave me my start as an intern in this building, Senator Paul Douglas. ARA provided assistance to distressed areas through loans and grants for public facilities; technology and market information; and research grants in order to spur economic growth. Sound familiar? Paul Douglas believed then, as I believe now, there is a proper role for government to play in assisting distressed communities and regions. Now for 50 years, the ARA and then the EDA have helped communities identify the best strategies for creating economic growth and leveraging private investment to help create jobs. EDA remains focused on assisting distressed communities and communities recovering from disasters. And it has been very effective. Every Federal dollar invested in EDA projects attracts $7 additional dollars in private investments in these distressed communities. And even in the midst of this last recession and sparse private investments, EDA-funded public/private projects created an estimated 161,500 jobs in the last 2 1/2 years. In Illinois in 2009 and 2010 alone, EDA funded 52 projects that resulted in nearly $70 million in new investments in the State.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), an opponent of authorizing funding for the EDA, wrote in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal: “…In the midst of a debt crisis, the Senate is currently seeking to increase EDA funding to $500 million a year from $300 million….A review of the EDA's grants makes clear that, just like the stimulus, this program too often has used federal dollars to fund pet projects that have little relation to the national interest. In April, the bureau reported that it gave a $2 million grant to build a "culinary amphitheater," wine tasting room, and gift shop at the Port of Benton and the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Richland, Wash. The same month, it gave $1.5 million to promote tourism in the Northern Mariana Islands. In January, it spent $1 million on an "innovation conference center" in Arkansas to promote "cultural enrichment."
The Senate rejected the motion to end debate by a vote of 49-51. Voting “yea” were 49 Democrats. All 47 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, Senate Republicans effectively killed legislation authorizing federal funding for economic development programs operated by the Economic Development Administration and the Area Redevelopment Administration.