According to CQ, the House is considering taking on the Senate transportation bill with an Ex-Im revival attached to it. The bill passed in July.
Multi-Year Highway Bill — The House expects to consider a House amendment to the Senate amendment to HR 22, the Senate-passed six-year highway bill. Under the current hybid proposal before the Rules Committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s highway and transit provisions (HR 3763) would replace the Senate’s transportation provisions, while the Senate’s financing and offset language and certain other provisions (including an Export-Import Bank reauthorization) would remain. The proposed measure would cover projected Highway Trust Fund shortfalls and provide full program funding for only three years; leaders hope that financing to fully fund the bill for all six years can be developed in conference with the Senate. The measure is expected to be considered under a structured rule that limits amendments. A House Action Reports Fact Sheet will be provided prior to floor action.
Unless, this report is incorrect, which is possible, it is strange to say the least. There are tremendous problems with the Senate transportation bill. For instance, it authorizes transportation for six years but only funds it for three, in addition to reviving Ex-Im. Why on earth would the House take up such a bill? In particular, it is odd considering that the whole House leadership is theoretically against the crony Ex-Im now that speaker Boehner is gone.
This is even more troubling considering that during his acceptance speech, now-speaker Paul Ryan specifically spoke out against cronyism. Politico adds that Ryan isn’t a K Street guy as much as Boehner was:
Boehner schmoozed his network of lobbyists and former staffers, a group so ubiquitous on D.C.’s cocktail circuit it was dubbed “Boehnerland.” He favored golf fundraisers and other junkets that allowed lobbyists and industry executives to spend several hours at a time with him. He was interested in their opinions, often asking K Streeters what they thought about legislative priorities and tactics.
And whereas Boehner was willing to do a favor for a friend, several lobbyists said they don’t expect the same from Ryan.
“When you are a policy wonk, but also a transformative crusader as he is, that makes lobbyists nervous,” said Stephen Pinkos, a former House GOP leadership aide now at American Continental Group. “He’ll put philosophy above transactions.”
On the Sunday shows this weekend, Ryan seemed to indicate his desire to guide the Republican party in a more free-market direction, or at least to reconcile with the free-market wing of the caucus. Being silent on Ex-Im and taking on the Senate bill with Ex-Im attached would send all the wrong signals.