House leaders rejected the six-year $350 billion bill approved by the Senate. Instead, Congress passed a three-month highway bill, providing more time to negotiate.
Congressman Adrian Smith acknowledges it’s not the best outcome.
“Speaking for myself, but I think reflecting on the opinions of colleagues that we don’t want to just keep up with these short-term fixes,” Smith says. “We need to look longer-term.”
A couple of sticking points have arisen.
One is the funding of the bill. House leaders contend the numbers in the Senate bill simply don’t add up, leaving it short of the money needed to fund it for the full six years.
Another is the revival of the Export-Import Bank, which provides low-interest loans used by United States companies to export goods and services. The bank’s charter expired at the end of June.
Sen. Deb Fischer voted in the majority that approved the bill 65-34.
The Senate bill provides money for road and bridge construction throughout the country as well as money for transit, railroad, and auto safety programs.
Fischer says she’s satisfied with the funding contained in the bill, especially since it relies on tightening tax collections rather than raising taxes. The bill calls for $16 billion to be generated by reducing the dividend rate the federal government pays to banks.
Fischer voted against the provision including the Export-Import Bank in the bill.
Despite the setback in not passing a long-term measure, Fischer is optimistic an agreement can be struck with the House in September.
“I’m very, very hopeful we’re going to have a long-term highway bill that states want and people are demanding,” Fischer says.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]