Sen. Mark Pryor, along with Republicans Sen. John Boozman, Rep. Steve Womack and Rep. Tim Griffin, were on hand today in Rogers to announce a $600,000 federal grant for the World Trade Center Arkansas, an affiliate of the University of Arkansas. The federal money will be used “to expand its outreach services to diversify and strengthen the state’s economy,” according to the university. Arkansas Business has more.
The funds were available via the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce which supports economic development in economically distressed areas.
Democrats were quick to point out that Rep. Tom Cotton voted to abolish the EDA, which would have stopped this grant from happening, the only member of the Arkansas Congressional delegation to do so. It’s getting to be a broken record. The Democratic Party of Arkansas stated in its press release: “Congressman Cotton voted against the best interests Arkansas and with the billionaires funding his campaign when he voted to eliminate the EDA.”
Cotton argues that the EDA represents wasteful spending and advocated for cutting the program on debt hawk grounds (funny how Cotton is extremely concerned about the deficit when it comes to domestic spending but totally on board with opening the checkbook for open-ended foreign-policy adventures). Anyways, this is the recurring theme when it comes to Cotton’s votes: he’s an outlier, even among his Republican colleagues, in the “Hell No” caucus, voting to cut pretty much everything (on principle!). The practical result of that ideological rigidity would be that Arkansas would lose out. That’s the thing about trying to put a stop to bringing home the bacon. People like bacon. The Hell No caucus means no farm subsidies, no food stamps, no disaster relief, no needed funding for Children’s hospital, no grants for economic development in Rogers, and on and on.
The Pryor campaign has pointed out that Cotton’s vote to abolish the EDA, via an amendment last summer to an appropriations bill, was strongly supported by the Club for Growth, key financial backers of Cotton. Shortly before the vote, the Club issued a key vote alert to Cotton and other members of Congress, noting that abolishing the EDA (“nothing more than a redistribution scheme”) would be on the Club’s 2014 scorecard.
Pryor back in June:
I’ll continue to support this program because it means good-paying jobs for Arkansas and makes our communities stronger. Congressman Cotton isn’t listening to Arkansans, and his political ambitions are no excuse for voting once again against working families and our state’s economy. Instead of listening to the Washington special interests, Congressman Cotton should join Arkansas’ Republicans and Democrats to support bringing critical investment into our state — that’s the responsible thing to do for hardworking Arkansas families.
The Cotton camp responded at the time that the EDA provided funds for wasteful pet projects and noted that an early draft of the Simpson-Bowles Commission plan on debt reduction recommended elimination of the EDA.