Conservative groups key-vote highway bill with Export-Import Bank renewal

Conservative groups key-vote highway bill with Export-Import Bank renewal
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Conservative groups Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America on Thursday urged lawmakers to oppose a long-term transportation bill that reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank.

The groups issued key vote alerts on the conference report on a five-year $305 billion highway spending bill that would renew the Ex-Im Bank through fiscal 2019 with the House set to vote on final passage early Thursday afternoon.

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Andrew Roth, vice president of government affairs with the Club for Growth, said the "plan is horrible on several levels."

Notably, it includes the reauthorization of the "cronyist" Ex-Im Bank, Roth said. 

Heritage called the bank the "now-defunct poster-child of corporate welfare."

"Ending this bank was a huge win for free-market conservatives, and resuscitating it now represents a major blow to the conservative movement and to conservatives’ credibility in ridding the federal government of favoritism for special interests," Heritage said. 

Heritage said the bill would “spend more on highways than either the House- or Senate-passed bills and would finance that increased funding almost exclusively with embarrassing budget gimmicks.”

Roth argued that "this orgy of spending is offset by budget gimmicks and not by real reductions in spending."

"American taxpayers have such contempt for Washington precisely because of the contents in this bill and the tactics used to pass it," Roth said.

Overall, the highway bill doesn't "represent something Congress should be proud of. It represents a Congress that refuses to make the tough choices and instead relies on gimmicks to finance its spending appetite," Heritage added. 

The bill spends $281 billion on highway programs, more than anticipated by either the $268 billion House bill or the $280 billion Senate measure, according to Heritage.   

“The outcome represents a caricature of congressional negotiations: one chamber proposes an unsustainable spending bill, the other proposes even more spending, and they negotiate a level even higher," the group said. 

Roth said that the proposed spending exceeds projected gas tax revenue by $70 billion.

"When spending exceeds revenue, that means each state wins by getting more than they deliver to DC via the gas tax, causing the 50 states to become ever more addicted to the federal program," Roth said.

"Unfortunately, taxpayers lose under this scenario."