The House approved a bill to spend up to $325 billion on transportation projects after weeklong debate on the floor. The measure includes a reauthorization of the Export-Import Banks charter, which had been expired since June. The bill also calls for $261 billion in spending on highways and $55 billion on transit over six years. The legislation is authorized to fund highway projects for six years, but only if they can pay for the final three years. The legislation will be conferenced with the Senate version in the coming weeks. Congress faces a November 20 deadline to complete a conference report.
The House Steering Committee elected Kevin Brady (R-TX) over Pat Tiberi (R-OH) as the new Chairman of the powerful, tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, succeeding Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). The vote took place in a closed-door meeting after the two candidates made presentations to the 30 member panel. In a related move, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) was chosen to fill the vacancy created by Ryan when he left the panel.
On another note, there is concern around the Capitol that there might not be an omnibus spending bill by the deadline of December 11. Opening up the bill to amendments could sway Democrats away from bill, as they are insisting on a clean spending bill, free of controversial policy riders. Speaker Ryan has not ruled out attaching these riders to the bill saying, "This is the legislative branch and the power of the purse rests within the legislative branch, and we fully expect that we're going to exercise that power." Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has stated that he will block a bill full of these riders in the Senate.
The House will be in recess during the week of November 9; while the Senate will be in early that week, they leave after Veterans Day.