BCA's Washington Briefing

follow us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on youtube Nov. 6, 2015

The doors to the Export-Import Bank of the United States soon could reopen for export financing after important congressional action this week moved the bank a step closer to reauthorization.

The House voted 363-64 to pass a transportation bill that included reauthorization of the charter of the Ex-Im Bank, an important tool for manufacturers that helps move their goods overseas when traditional financing is not available.

The Export-Import Bank's charter expired in June but a bank extension would reauthorize the charter until 2019.

Because the House and Senate already have attached renewal of the Ex-Im Bank to the transportation bill, business could get an early Christmas present when the highway bill receives final passage.

"With Thursday's vote, the United States moves closer to retaining the export financing tool it needs in order for businesses in Alabama and across the country to continue to compete on a level playing field with other nations that have active financing banks," BCA President and CEO William J. Canary said.

The Exporters For Ex-Im Coalition, of which the BCA is an active member, released a statement after the House Ex-Im Bank vote that also had blocked 10 amendments designed by opponents to stall reauthorization. The bill will go to conference committee for reconciliation with the Senate version.

"This moves Ex-Im reauthorization and reform one step closer to reality, and sends a clear signal to the conference committee that any further changes to Ex-Im would be undermining the will of the supermajority in both chambers," the statement said. "We urge Congress to finish its work on Ex-Im and once again provide U.S. exporters with the critical tools they need to export products and grow jobs in the U.S."
In addition to moving the Export-Import Bank of the United States one step closer to renewal, the House approved a bill to spend up to $325 billion on transportation projects over the next six years.

The House voted 363-64 to spend $261 billion on highways and $55 billion on transit over six years. The bill, with the Ex-Im Bank renewal attached, goes to conference with a separate Senate highway bill. Congress faces a Nov. 20 deadline to complete work on a conference report and keep highway funding moving.

Before getting to final passage, the House voted on nearly 130 amendments, including one which failed that would have raised the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax to 33.4 cents per gallon. Democrats sought the tax hike.

"The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act will spur investment and rebuild  America's infrastructure that needs constant updating to maintain safe and smooth transportation for the nation's goods," said Business Council of Alabama President and CEO William J. Canary. "The BCA and its partners will work tirelessly in the next few weeks to urge House and Senate leaders to approve a workable version of the two bills in order for state and local transportation agencies to continue to employ thousands in the road construction and supply business."

The BCA's national partners reacted positively to passage.

"A robust and well maintained transportation infrastructure system is the backbone of the American economy," U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue said in a statement.

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said it's imperative that Congress pass the bill prior to the Thanksgiving recess. The short-term highway bill extension expires Nov. 20. "This long-term highway bill is an important and overdue step forward to ending the counterproductive cycle of stop-gap renewals and to building our future again," Timmons said.

The BCA is the U.S. Chamber and the NAM's exclusive representative in Alabama.
The Senate this week passed S.J. Res. 22 to eliminate the new Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers' "Waters of the United States Rule," a regulation that will subject nearly everyone to unreasonable and uncertain interpretations that would cause additional construction costs and limit new job creation.

Voting 53-44, the Senate struck the onerous and possibly illegal rule foisted on American citizens by active regulatory agencies without Congressional approval. The WOTUS rule, which is opposed by the Business Council of Alabama, would subject an almost limitless number of new areas to permitting uncertainty as well as potentially exposing facilities to administrative actions and lawsuits by anti-business groups.

S. 1140 would have struck the regulation and set a process for reissuing a clear and reasonable definition for waters with stakeholder input. But it failed to receive consideration due to a Senate parliamentary procedure.

The Senate came back with S.J. Res. 22 to withdraw the WOTUS regulation that is not based on science or law and will not improve water quality.

The rule will expand EPA jurisdiction to ad-hoc streams, upstream waters on private land, and even roadside ditches to federal regulation, opening up the courts to probable lawsuits by hostile environmental groups that are friendly with the EPA.

The EPA would gain jurisdiction over millions of acres of local government and private property and add millions of dollars in expenses and years in delay to developing jobs.

The resolution would order the EPA and Corps to withdraw the WOTUS rule and would prevent the agencies from further similar rulemaking. The joint resolution must now be passed by the House and signed by the President.
The new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said he wants to lower the nation's corporate tax rate starting next year. Brady succeeds new House Speaker Paul Ryan, the former Ways and Means chairman.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Brady said his first goal is to bring up pro-growth tax reform. It will include negotiating permanent provisions to the expired tax breaks and to conclude discussion on international tax reform.
Both will help U.S. companies retain profits and reinvest in the United States to create jobs, he said.

Brady said lowering the corporate tax rate and pass-throughs will dramatically simplify individual tax brackets. He said global competitors continue to lower their tax rates but the United States hasn't kept pace.

"And I'm convinced we need a bold leapfrog into either a significantly lower rate or a different way of taxation," Brady said. "But at the end of the day, Republican-driven tax reform is not only going to be good for the economy and for growth. It's going to be good for middle class Americans. If we decide this is good for America, for our economy and our workers, House Republicans are going to lead, because this is expanding economic freedom for America."


Obama tells Congress he will sign TPP
The Hill (Needham 11/05) "President Obama notified Congress on Thursday that he intends to sign a broad trade agreement spanning from Asia to Latin America. The president's notification was expected soon after the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was released around 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

"The message kicks off a period of at least 90 days before Obama can sign the agreement, a requirement of the trade promotion authority, or fast-track, legislation he signed into law this summer. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has expressed concern about the TPP's final details, said that an intention to sign the agreement does not mean the Obama administration's 'duty is over to convince Congress that this TPP is the best agreement possible'.

"Hatch said the text of the trade deal, which covers about 40 percent of the world's economic activity, would undergo a "rigorous review" to determine whether it meets the standards set by Congress. In the message to Congress, Obama said that the deal 'will generate export opportunities for U.S. manufacturers, service suppliers, farmers, ranchers and businesses'. He said the TPP would lead to more job creation and would help U.S. consumers save money and give them access to more products."
Obama rejects Keystone XL project, citing climate concerns
Washington Post (Eilperin and Mufson 11/06) "President Obama has rejected a presidential permit Friday for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, according to individuals briefed on the decision, citing concerns about its impact on the climate. 

"The decision to deny TransCanada Corp. a cross-border permit for a 1,179-mile pipeline between Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City, Neb., puts an end -- at least for now -- to a seven-year fight over a project that came to symbolize what Obama could do unilaterally to keep fossil fuels in the ground."

US Chamber of Commerce   National Association of Manufacturers
Sixth District
 U. S. Rep. Gary Palmer