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House and Senate show support for economic development in spending bills
Matthew Mullin   on Friday, June 15, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have advanced their spending bills for fiscal 2019. Both chambers showed support for EDA, with the House maintaining current funding into the next fiscal year and the Senate providing a modest increase of roughly $4 million.

Accompanying report language for each bill provided additional insight into the concerns of committee members, including:

  • In the House version, the language specifically rebuts the White House proposal to eliminate EDA
  • Both the House and the Senate version again directed $30 million to assist coal communities
  • Communities impacted by a nuclear power plant closure received special mention, but no specific amount of funding, in the House version of the bill
  • The Senate version of the bill included a number of additional notices related to: boardband projects, outdoor creation projects, university-based incubators, and aiding the development of new forest products. None of these interests received specific funding.
  • The Northern Boarder Regional Commission would be aided by $3 million in directed EDA funding for aiding forest communities experiencing economic hardship
  • The Regional Innovation Program continues to receive bicameral support, with the Senate version calling for at least 40% of awards to go to rural communities.

The CJS bill also included additional economic development priorities of note:

  • The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) receives $40 million in the House bill ($1 million over fiscal 2018) and $39 million in the Senate bill (level with fiscal 2018)
  • The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) receives $140 million in both the House and the Senate bills (level with fiscal 2018)
  • The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) receives $5 million in the House bill ($10 million under fiscal 2018) and $15 million in the Senate bill (level with fiscal 2018)
  • SelectUSA receives $10 million in the Senate bill. There is no mention of SelectUSA in the House bill. SelectUSA was not included in current year appropriations
  • Census receives $3.8 billion in the Senate bill ($1 billion above fiscal 2018) and $4.8 billion in the House bill ($2 billion above fiscal $2018)

Overall, the bills are good news for economic development. The future of appropriations bills remains uncertain, however, as August recess and mid-term campaigning ramp-up.