“NO” Highway-Transit Bailout and Export-Import Bank Reauthorization (H.R. 22)

Today, the House began consideration of the Senate-passed Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act (H.R. 22). The House version of this 1,000+ page bill would authorize $325 billion over six years for highway and transit programs, well above the projected revenue coming into the federal Highway Trust Fund.  The bill would also reauthorize the now-defunct Export-Import Bank.

Although the House will substitute highway and transit language drafted by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the procedure set up by the House Rules Committee will ensure a long-term reauthorization of the now-expired Export-Import Bank remains in the base text.  The bank is not needed.  Its largest beneficiary – Boeing – is thriving in a post-Ex-Im world.  For example, this summer the aerospace giant signed a 50-plane deal with FedEx, ensuring a steady line of production for its 767 cargo aircraft through FY2023.

Aside from the inclusion of the Export-Import Bank, one of the most concerning elements of the bill is the nature of the supposed pay fors. The House will keep most of the Senate pay fors in place (a manager’s amendment will remove one of the pay fors used in the Bipartisan Budget Act), but the bill only bails out the bankrupt federal Highway Trust Fund for three years.   Even in the near term, this bill will increase deficits since all of these pay fors are spread out over the next decade, while the spending occurs over the next three years.

The federal highway program is fundamentally broken, and the House’s approach would lock in the status quo for another six years. According to CQ, “it is estimated that trust fund revenues will fall $100 billion short of what is needed over the next six years if highway and transit spending is maintained at existing levels.”  The House bill does little to reform the bloated, unsustainable federal highway and transit system. The bill simply kicks the can down the road, masks its irresponsible nature with gimmicky offsets, and creates bigger “cliffs” for lawmakers to tackle in the future.

Bottom line: the House highway and transit bill would simply perpetuate a broken system by relying on gimmicks, dubious revenue increases and promises of future action all the while providing for the reauthorization of a defunct slush fund for corporate welfare.

Heritage Action opposes H.R. 22 and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

** Please note: Additional key votes on amendments are possible. **