Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held an oversight hearing to examine programs at the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and review programs for reauthorization.
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the hearing. Assistant Secretary Castillo, I thank you for coming, and the stakeholders on the second panel.
“The Economic Development Administration—or EDA—is an important partner to communities in West Virginia and across the nation that are working to advance economic opportunity for their citizens.
“As the lead agency for the federal economic development agenda, the EDA provides funding for critical infrastructure projects and other activities that support job creation and retention in disadvantaged urban and rural areas.
“In my capacity as the Senator for West Virginia, I have worked to foster a renewed focus by EDA in my home state.
“It’s worked. Since 2015, West Virginia has received over $100 million in investments from EDA, supporting thousands of jobs.
“I appreciate so much the time that Assistant Secretary Castillo and I have spent together already, most recently during her visit to West Virginia. We’ve already talked about another visit in the near future.
“This hearing is timely given that EDA is in the process of considering applications for projects to use the more than $3 billion in supplemental appropriations it received through the American Rescue Plan Act.
“Taken together with the $1.5 billion that was provided in the CARES Act, EDA has received well over ten times the annual funding typically appropriated to EDA, all within one year. That’s a challenge.
“This is on top of the $1.2 billion total in supplemental appropriations provided to EDA for disaster recovery in 2018 and 2019.
“This committee will continue to exercise oversight of EDA’s use of these and other funds, and I look forward to hearing about this during this hearing.
“Given the significant funding provided by Congress to EDA in recent years, it is concerning that the majority of the agency’s programs are administered under expired authorizations.
“Congress last authorized EDA in 2004.
“Congress has not updated EDA’s priorities—informed by our constituents’ needs and experience with EDA—for over a decade while EDA spends record amounts.
“Reauthorization legislation would enable Congress to reassert direction over EDA funding decisions.
“Modernized legislation would also enhance our oversight of EDA and explore ways to encourage coordination across federal economic development programs.
“Just last week, the committee welcomed Dr. Jennifer Clyburn Reed, who has been nominated to serve as federal co-chair of the Southeast Crescent Regional Commissions.
“We must ensure good stewardship of government funds between EDA and the regional commissions the EPW Committee oversees.
“EDA reauthorization legislation would allow us to update the agency’s processes for program implementation and project delivery.
“It should also support further cooperation between EDA and the private sector.
“The U.S. economy has changed a lot over the past ten years.
“We ought to make sure EDA’s authorizing statutes reflect this reality.
“However, I must stress that reauthorization legislation will not be an opportunity to change EDA’s traditional missions in favor of other missions.
“That is best left to other agencies.
“Neither will it be an opportunity to carry out a federal industrial policy in Washington that would pick winners and losers.
“We must maintain EDA’s focus on those areas that truly need assistance, and continue with an industry-agnostic approach that emphasizes locally-driven economic development decisions.
“As the committee considers reauthorization legislation, I look forward to hearing from Assistant Secretary Castillo and our stakeholders about implementation of EDA’s programs in general, and what policy and programmatic improvements this committee should consider.
“In closing, let me again say I appreciate all of our witnesses for being here today.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back my time.”
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