Congress has several issues it should address before it breaks for August recess, but two pressing issues on the table with clear deadlines are federal highway funding and the reauthorization of the Export Import Bank.
The current federal highway bill is set to expire August 1. If Congress fails to keep federal transportation aid flowing to states, the entire nation, including South Carolina, will likely have to slow down or even halt key infrastructure projects. In a recent article from the Associated Press, South Carolina Senator Larry Grooms said, “Once the Federal Highway Trust Fund is at zero balance, they will not be able to reimburse the states for federally authorized work. It'll hurt our state more than most other states because we're so heavily dependent on the Federal Highway Trust Fund." With South Carolina’s roads and bridges already at a crisis stage, lack of federal funding will only exacerbate the danger and deterioration of infrastructure. In fact, a recent report found that South Carolina’s rural roads are the deadliest in the nation. The U.S. Senate and House both have reauthorization plans drafted and are going through the committee process.
The Export Import Bank (Ex-Im), the official export credit agency of the U.S. government, is another issue important to South Carolina businesses, specifically manufacturers. Global competition is fierce, which is why the Bank is vital to American exporters and job creation. The Ex-Im Bank is set to expire September 30 without reauthorization from Congress and covers critical gaps in financing for U.S. exports to developing countries where commercial bank financing is unavailable or insufficient. Last year alone, the Bank helped facilitate more than $37 billion in U.S. exports and support more than 200,000 U.S. jobs. Also, the Ex-Im Bank does not cost taxpayers one cent and actually returns a profit for the American taxpayer. Over the past two years, it returned $2 billion to the U.S. Treasury.