December 9 - After lengthy debate, the US Senate approved a five-year USD305 billion highway bill and revived the charter of the US Export-Import Bank.
Senators voted 83 to 16 to approve the highway bill after it cleared the House of Representatives by a 359-65 margin; the bill paves the way for USD205 billion of investment into highway infrastructure and USD48 billion for transit projects over the next five years
The passing of the law marks a significant step towards improving the USA's ailing transport infrastructure. This was the first long-term highway bill signed in a decade.
In a bonus for US manufacturers and exporters, the legislation saw the reauthorisation of the US Export-Import Bank (EXIM).
HLPFI has reported extensively on developments at the EXIM Bank. Many were disappointed when its charter expired in June 2015, meaning the bank could not engage in any new business. Supporters said thousands of organisations relied on the EXIM Bank to fund or guarantee international transactions deemed too risky by commercial lenders.
Despite opposition from Republicans, the EXIM Bank's charter has been restored until September 30, 2019, subject to a number of regulatory reforms and a lower lending limit.
"This bill is not perfect, but it is a common sense compromise, and an important first step in the right direction," said US President Barack Obama ahead of the bill signing.
"I look forward to signing this bill right away, so that we can put Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, and transit systems, reauthorise the Export-Import Bank that helps our companies compete around the world, and give local and state governments and employers the certainty they need to invest and hire for the long term."