Progress: U.S. House passes highway bill, reauthorizes Ex-Im Bank. Back to Senate.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a long-awaited transportation package and, with it, moved the Export-Import Bank closer to reauthorization. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The House on Thursday approved a multiyear transportation funding bill that would also renew the Export-Import Bank, increasing the odds that the measure would be signed into law.

The bill passed 363-64, setting up negotiations with the Senate, which has already passed its own highway-funding bill. If the two chambers can resolve their differences, the measure to fund road, bridge and mass-transit projects would provide the most certainty in a decade for transportation planners, who have shied away from large-scale projects because of uncertainty over whether funding would be available.

More on the measure in Politico.

Both provisions are important to Washingtonians. As we wrote of federal transportation funding in our foundation report.

Historically, the federal government has played a significant role in funding maintenance and preservation of state roads and bridges; however, federal funding has become less certain in recent years. The ongoing uncertainty makes planning difficult and further delays vital investment. The federal-state transportation partnership must be made more secure. 

On the Ex-Im Bank, the Puget Sound Business Journal today reports

Had it not been for support from the Export-Import Bank, Boeing might been unable to deliver many of the aircraft it was building during the 2008-2009 recession.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Connersaid the support from Ex-Im was critical during that period. Boeing production continued unabated during the recession, while other factories across the nation were closing their doors. That helped protect the Puget Sound region from being as hard-hit as other cities across the country.

The Seattle Times editorial board also weighs in again on the bank (before the House vote).

Congressional leaders who understand the pivotal role the Ex-Im Bank plays must fight to bring it back — in its full capacity.