The House passed a highway bill Thursday that includes a provision to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
An amendment allowing the bank critics say encourages crony capitalism was tacked onto the highway bill, which passed with overwhelming approval in a 363-64 vote Thursday. Supporters of the bank say it gives businesses the finances they need to compete in a global economy.
The bank’s charter expired in July, when lawmakers opposed to the bank banded together to prevent its reauthorization. Once reopened, the bank will again provide low-interest, taxpayer-backed financing to companies exporting American goods.
Most of the no votes on the larger bill came from conservatives angered by the Ex-Im provision and because the bill is not fully paid for.
The legislation provides almost $325 billion in funds for infrastructure and transportation, short of the $478 billion the Obama administration called for, and allocating enough money for just half the amount of time the bill covers.
“This bill only funded the first three years of its six years of spending,” Republican Rep. Peter Roskam said in a statement Thursday. “I voted no.”
“At the funding levels proposed in both the House and Senate bills, the result will be more traffic,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told USA Today.
Lawmakers need to reconcile the bill with the Senate version of the highway bill passed in July, which provides $350 billion in funds, before the Nov. 20 deadline.
“Over these last four days, the House has debated more amendments than in the last four months combined,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters, according to The New York Times. “This is a good start. It’s a glimpse of how we should be doing the people’s business.”
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