Negotiators for the U.S. House and Senate agreed Tuesday to a five-year highway transportation funding bill that reauthorizes the controversial Export-Import bank, which provides funding and credit for companies that are either exporting or importing goods into the United States. The legislation covers a longer period of time than any other transportation bill in the past decade, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Throughout the presidency of Barack Obama, Congress has punted with short-term funding measures for infrastructure programs. Both chambers of the federal legislature passed similar bills earlier this year that promised funding for six years. However, only three years of the funding were detailed in those bills. Differences in the two laws required a joint negotiating session between the two wings of Congress. There was no federal gas tax increase to finance the infrastructure repairs in either of the original bills. That tax hasn't been changed in more than two decades.
The Export-Import bank is a self-sustaining branch of the federal government that allows companies to take risks in international waters and markets when private sector banks are either unable, or unwilling, to provide credit.
House, Senate negotiators agree to five-year highway bill that reauthorizes Export-Import Bank https://t.co/vF4pOxlo9p
— WSJ Breaking News (@WSJbreakingnews) December 1, 2015
Export-Import Bank funding expired June 30 when Congress was unable to renew the organization’s charter. There is at least one significant difference in the makeup of the legislature then compared to now: House Speaker Paul Ryan took over for John Boehner, who retired from that position at the end of October. Boehner was pushed out of his former position by an ultra-conservative faction of the Republican caucus that refused to vote with the broader Republican Party.
Even though new applications for credit were not accepted after the June 30 expiration, the Export-Import bank was funded through Sept. 30. Republicans repeatedly bash the bank for supporting major corporations like Boeing and GE, which they say do not need the support of taxpayers’ money. Supporters of the bank say it is necessary in order to promote trade that would otherwise be too risky for private companies.