Rep. Mike Pompeo proposed an amendment to the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday that would eliminate funding for the Economic Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
That’s a day after the agency named Wichita and south Kansas a “ manufacturing community” – allowing the area to get a slice of $1.3 billion in federal economic development dollars.
“(It) does nothing more than pick amongst winners and losers by region, industry and community,” Pompeo said while addressing the House on Thursday.
“We’re all familiar with agencies that have outlived their usefulness and no longer can withstand scrutiny. In these times, if we don’t set priorities, nothing is a priority and here’s one opportunity for all of us to make one tiny step to get rid of what is now over $17 trillion in debt.”
Pompeo’s press office did not return requests for comment from The Eagle.
Pompeo’s amendment, which proposed eliminating the EDA’s total funding of $247 million in fiscal year 2015 and using the money to help pay off the national debt, did not pass the House.
All of Kansas’ delegation voted in favor of the amendment.
Wichita State University officials, who helped draft the proposal for the designation, say it will help advance manufacturing in the area and could be used for training workers, infrastructure, capital improvements and enhancing international trade.
While addressing the House, Pompeo gave examples of how the EDA gave $2 million in 2008 to begin construction of the UNLV Harry Reid Research and Technology Park in Las Vegas that has not yet been constructed and $1.5 million in 2011 to New Mexico to renovate a theater.
“While many of these projects aren’t necessarily bad, some are just plain ridiculous,” Pompeo told the House.
“These are local projects that either have enough support from their local communities so they could have certainly advanced without federal funding or they require federal funding because the local community won’t support them. Either way the federal government has no role in being involved.”
Pompeo faces former 4th District Congressman Todd Tiahrt in a Republican primary Aug. 5. Tiahrt held the House seat from 1995 to 2011, when he ran Jerry Moran for an open Senate seat and lost.
Tiarht announced his candidacy for the House on Thursday.