By Scott Wong - 07-27-15 14:28 PM EDT
The House will not vote on a Senate bill that funds highway construction for six years and revives the now-expired Export-Import Bank, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday.
“We’re not taking up the Senate bill,” McCarthy declared to a roomful of reporters in his office.
Instead, McCarthy urged the Senate to take up a short-term House-passed bill which extends federal highway funding for five months, without renewing the Ex-Im Bank charter. He called the House bill the “best option” for Congress before money for highways, bridges and mass transit runs out on Friday.
McCarthy’s declaration is a blow not only to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) had teamed up to craft the bipartisan, long-term highway bill.
It’s also a blow to backers of the Ex-Im Bank, who had hoped the 81-year-old institution would be revived by catching a ride on the back of the Senate transportation bill.
McCarthy, who controls the House floor schedule, said the lower chamber plans to leave for the August recess on Thursday.
He didn’t rule out the possibility Congress could pass a much shorter-term highway bill, perhaps one that provided just two months of transportation funding. But McCarthy said his chamber had already passed a more-preferable five-month bill that gives Congress enough time to hammer out a longer-term, House-Senate deal.