Over in Washington, it's good to see the House getting back to business with Speaker Paul Ryan, and by "business" I mean whining a lot and then quietly giving President Obama what he wants, just like Orange Julius.
The House passed a long-term U.S. highway funding plan Thursday, handing new Speaker Paul Ryan a legislative victory and paving the way for the first multi-year transportation law since 2012.
Lawmakers voted 363-64 for the bill that would revive the U.S. Export-Import Bank, whose charter expired June 30. Bankers also won a last-minute change that will use Federal Reserve surplus funds to pay for highway improvements, instead of reducing a payout they receive from the central bank.
“It cuts waste, it prioritizes good infrastructure, it will help create good-paying jobs. And it is the result of a more open process,” Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said at a news conference after the vote. "It’s a good start. It’s a glimpse of how we should be doing the people’s business."
The Senate has passed its own version of the legislation, and a conference committee will try to resolve the differences before current highway funding ends Nov. 20.
The House measure would provide a six-year blueprint for spending on roads, bridges and mass transit projects and provide funding for three of those years. Companies that may get a boost include Caterpillar Inc., one of the top Ex-Im beneficiaries and the world’s biggest maker of mining and construction equipment. Contractors may feel secure enough to purchase new equipment after renting in recent years.
So when all's said and done, the Highway Bill will most likely pass, the Export-Import Bank will be back, and 80% plus of the House passed what President Obama set out to do with the Highway Bill anyway, that is secure a long-term, multi year infrastructure investment. It doesn't raise additional funding, but it doesn't cut it either.
It's the best we can hope for, that is "basic functionality that doesn't end in flames" from this Republican-led Congress.