House and Senate on Course to Collide on Highway Bill
Senators overruled conservative opposition on Monday and added a new measure reviving the Export-Import Bank to highway legislation that must pass. However, Republicans in the House declared the transportation bill in the Senate was dead on arrival. It is politics as usual.
These developments set the chambers on a head-on collision course just days prior to the deadline for the crucial highway legislations in the middle of the summer high-driving season.
The outcomes for both the Export-Import bill and the highway bill are uncertain, although it looked likely late on Monday that Congress was considering a highway short-term extension.
As members of the House convened on Monday for their last days prior to the annual recess for August, Kevin McCarthy the Majority Leader ruled out discussing the highway bill from the Senate, which cleared a hurdle in procedure on Monday and was headed for completion during the next few days.
We are not discussing the Senate bill, said the Republican from California adding that the U.S. Senate should instead be taking up the legislation that the House already passed.
Hours later, during a hectic session late into the night, the Senate vote was 64-29 to include a provision that revives the Export-Import Bank, as an amendment to highway bill. The bank, which is a federal agency and underwrites loans that help foreign customers buy goods from the U.S. expired as of June 30 amidst opposition from conservatives.
Supporters in the business industry said the bank was necessary for competitiveness in the U.S., but conservatives claim it is just corporate welfare and those objections pushed the vote on Monday far beyond 10 p.m.
Ted Cruz a Republican senator from Texas and a presidential candidate who has led a passionate charge against the federal bank, clashed with Mitch McConnell the Senate Majority Leader over the bank and lashed out at him saying he turned his back on Americans allowing one of the country’s worst cases of corporate welfare to be resurrected.