Reid agrees to GOP demands to move Ex-Im bank reauthorization forward

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday agreed to Republican demands for votes on five amendments to legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. 

Reid's concession on the amendments will allow the Senate to proceed to the bill on Tuesday, but it remains unclear whether the upper chamber can finish its work on the legislation by May 31, when the bank's charter expires. 

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All five GOP amendments could fail, given the 60-vote threshold they'll need for approval, and it's also unclear whether Republicans are willing to move to a final vote on the measure. Final passage will also require 60 votes.

Republicans are divided over whether to reauthorize Ex-Im’s charter, which has complicated passage of the bill in both chambers.

Business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support the Ex-Im Bank, but it is opposed by conservative groups such as the Club for Growth.

Some Republicans see the bank as a form of corporate welfare that gives the government the power to pick winners and losers. The bank’s use of export subsidies has also come under attack.

While the House approved the legislation in an easy 330-93 vote, all of the "no" votes came from Republicans.

All of the amendments demanded by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and other Republicans would either limit the power of the bank or add requirements to its charter. 

One amendment, by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), adds a requirement of certification of foreign exports. Sen. David Vitter's (R-La.) amendment prohibits the bank from funding overseas renewable energy projects that compete with ones in Sen. Pat Toomey's (R-Pa.) amendment requires, which there be "progress" on negotiating ending the bank before the "release of Ex-Im funds." Sen. Mike Lee's (R-Utah) amendment outright kills the bank one year after its reauthorization. Lastly, Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) amendment prohibits the bank from making loans to countries that hold U.S. financial "debt instruments" such as government bonds. 

The agreement on Monday led Reid to drop plans for an evening cloture vote on a motion to proceed to the legislation. 

Reid has sought to highlight the support of business lobbies for the legislation. On Monday, he read a letter from the National Association of Manufacturers that called on all senators to pass the bill.

“The Export-Import Bank … is one of the only tools manufacturers in the United States have to counter hundreds of billions of dollars of export financing that foreign governments offer to their exporters,” Reid read from the letter.

Before the vote on Monday, Reid said Democrats and Republicans in the chamber were trying to work out a deal. He also grumbled over what he said was GOP obstruction on the legislation.

"Even though there is outward support for this legislation, they want to kill this bill,” Reid said Monday. “They don't want government to have anything to do with our lives, period. Nothing. Which is unrealistic in this modern world, and in fact in any world."

— This story was updated at 6:21 p.m.