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The Highway Bill

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

The Highway Bill

Senator Mitch McConnell
Congressional Record: 114th Congress
July 26, 2015

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, our country needs a multiyear highway bill, and we are close to finally passing a fiscally responsible and bipartisan one. Time is running short to get a bill through Congress, but as with most legislation, we still intend to consider some amendments from both sides of the aisle as we continue to work to pass it. We will start on that today.

Most important is a proposal that would repeal ObamaCare and allow our country to start over fresh with a real health care reform proposal. There is no question that I will be voting for it. There is no question that every Senator should join me in doing so. This is a law filled with higher costs, fewer choices, and broken promises.

This is a law that has failed repeatedly and continues to hammer hard-working middle-class families. The vote we will take this afternoon represents a stark choice for every Senator: protect a President who likes a law with his name on it or stand with the middle class by finally opening the way to truly affordable care.

Another proposal relates to the Export-Import Bank. I will be voting against it. The Export-Import Bank is a New Deal relic that has outlived any usefulness it might have had. If a project is worthy, private banks will step in to finance it. If it is not worthy, we should definitely not be financing it

by putting American taxpayers on the hook. Either way, Ex-Im is not necessary.

At the same time, I understand that many Senators on both sides take a different view. A significant percentage of my conference and many Democrats support the Ex-Im's reauthorization. They are entitled to that view. I don't see a reason why they shouldn't be allowed a debate and then a vote to sort all of this out. I have said repeatedly and I have said publicly for months that the Ex-Im supporters from both parties should be allowed a vote. I also said publicly that the highway bill would be an obvious place to have that vote.

When there is overwhelming bipartisan support for an idea, even if I am opposed to it, it doesn't require some special deal to see a vote occur on that measure. This is the U.S. Senate, after all, where we debate and vote on all kinds of different issues. The supporters of Ex-Im can still lose a vote, of course. They are not the only ones with passion on their side. Those on my side of the issue are passionate, too, and this debate might just present the perfect opportunity to make the case against Ex-Im and carry the day in an open and democratic vote, but whatever the outcome, the slots for these amendments will be open once the Senate disposes of them and that will open the possibility of considering other important amendments.

Let me repeat that. The slots for these amendments will open once the Senate disposes of them.

We know there are many other ideas from both sides of the aisle about how to improve the highway bill further before its completion, but we also know time is running short to complete our work on the underlying highway bill. Jobs are on the line. Infrastructure projects important to the people we represent are on the line. We have to get this done. With cooperation, we can ensure that more ideas from both sides of the aisle are still heard and voted upon.

This is a new Senate. Amendment votes are hardly a rarity here anymore. We will have more opportunities soon to address other issues in the weeks and months ahead. I will work with colleagues to help ensure that votes on other priorities occur.

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