Export-Import Bank Wins Reauthorization in House, Will Senate Follow Suit?

Export-Import Bank Wins Reauthorization in House, Will Senate Follow Suit?

Despite opposition from some of the top Republican leaders in the House, the Export-Import Bank was firmly reauthorized in the House today.  The next stop is the Senate, where its fate is uncertain though supporters are optimistic.

The House voted 313-118 today to reauthorize the Bank following two procedural votes today and yesterday that passed by closer margins.   Debate today was intense, with Republicans including Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is expected to become Speaker of the House later this week, castigating the bank as “crony capitalism.”

The Bank has not been able to issue new loans since its authorization expired on June 30.  An attempt to reauthorize the Bank in July also failed.

Created in 1934, the Bank needs to be periodically reauthorized, a step taken with little notice until recently.  The Bank helps provide financing for U.S. exports, including
communications satellites, for example.  The Aerospace Industries
Association (AIA) and the Satellite Industry Association are among its
supporters.  Orbital ATK President and CEO David Thompson repeated today during an investors conference call on the company’s third quarter results that it lost a satellite manufacturing contract because of the hiatus in Ex-Im financing.

Some conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats oppose the Bank on the grounds that it is a government subsidy — corporate welfare for a few big companies like Boeing and General Electric — while others hail the Bank as an important jobs creator by facilitating U.S. exports.

Supporters have consistently argued that a majority of the House supports the Bank, but Republican leaders have not allowed the issue to be voted on by the full House.  Instead, the bill to reauthorize the Bank has been held in the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) who opposes the Bank. The bill only reached the floor for a vote today because another Republican, Rep. Steve Fincher (R-TN), employed a rarely-used parliamentary procedure called a discharge petition to get it out of committee.

Despite the fractious debate today where Hensarling, Ryan and House Majority Leader Keven McCarthy (R-CA) were among the party leaders lambasting the Bank, 127 Republicans voted in favor of reauthorization.   They joined 186 Democrats supporting the Bank, while 117 Republicans and 1 Democrat (Alan Grayson of Florida) voted against it.

AIA issued a statement this evening praising the House action.  Asserting that U.S. companies have lost three satellite orders since the Bank’s authorization lapsed, AIA urged the House and Senate “to join in a cooperative, bipartisan spirit” to put it back in business.

It is now up to the Senate to act.  The House passed a stand-alone bill, H.R. 597, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) insists that he will not take up such a bill on its own, only as part of other legislation.  The Senate voted in July to approve reauthorization as part of legislation to continue spending from the Highway Trust Fund.  In that case, the House refused to bring the Senate bill to the floor and instead passed a separate Highway Trust Fund bill without the Ex-Im Bank provision.  Due to timing constraints, the Senate was forced to agree.

Bank supporters are optimistic that the Senate will agree to reauthorize the Bank this week.  One possible legislative vehicle is the latest Highway Trust Fund extension, which also passed the House today.   The extension that passed this summer was only through October 29.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is trying to clear the decks for his
presumptive successor, Ryan, before he leaves on Friday. Passing the Highway Trust Fund extension, the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, and getting a deal to raise the debt limit and fund the government beyond December 11 when the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires are all his to-do list.  It looks as though he may have the first two of those completed and a debt limit/budget deal was announced very early this morning though it has yet to pass either the House or Senate.


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