In what Senator Ted Cruz called “a major win,” the Senate approved the $8 billion three-month funding extension of federal transportation funding, without a provision to resurrect the Export-Import Bank. Conservatives oppose the Export-Import Bank because they consider it to be corporate welfare and have been pushing to keep it dead.
The highway bill was passed in a 91–4 vote, pushing the debate into the fall.
Obama, who has advocated for long-term extension of highway funding, is expected to sign the patch to prevent an interruption in funding during the busy summer construction season.
The vote Thursday came after the Senate passed its preferred fix, a six-year highway bill negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
House Republicans refused to take up that bill and left town on Wednesday, forcing the Senate to accept the three-month stopgap.
Republican leaders in the Senate sought to downplay the squabbling between the chambers as they punted the highway debate to the fall.
Following passage of the short-term extension, Senator Cruz issued the following statement:
“Today was a major win. Just one week ago, the Washington Cartel was certain that the Export-Import Bank — a quintessential example of cronyism and corporate welfare — would be reauthorized. The fix was in. And yet, after a long battle on the Senate floor, as Mark Twain might say, reports of Ex-Im’s revival were greatly exaggerated.
“The House stood strong and refused to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. And, today, the Senate was forced to relent and pass a three-month extension in the Highway bill, without reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.
“I commend House conservatives for their strong leadership. This Fall, no doubt, the Washington Cartel will make yet another run at reviving Ex-Im. Lobbyists will descend on Congress, doling out checks and trying to extend hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer loan guarantees to a handful of giant corporations. But, if the House continues to demonstrate their courage of their convictions, together we will make permanent a major victory for hard-working taxpayers. No more cronyism; instead, opportunity for all, and favoritism towards none.”
Yesterday, the vacation-bound speaker told reporters that this fall is going to be “exciting” with all of the bills that are piling up.
But he assured them that it will be “smooth sailing” when Congress returns in September from its five-week vacation.