Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that he is "optimistic" the Senate would reject five Republican amendments that would limit or even phase out the Export-Import Bank, and said he is "hopeful" the Senate will approve the unaltered House-passed bill later in the day.
"I'm optimistic, optimistic, that my Republican colleagues will make the right choice and help us defeat these vexatious amendments," Reid said on the Senate floor. "I'm hopeful that the Senate will pass it overwhelmingly, signaling to American businesses that we'll do what it takes to help them compete in a global market," he added of the bill itself.
Reid was much more optimistic Tuesday than he was on Monday, when he warned that partisan fighting might stall the Ex-Im reauthorization bill. That reflects an agreement reached Monday to allow votes on the GOP amendments, after which the Senate should vote on final passage.
Most Republican amendments would limit the Ex-Im Bank's ability to offer export financing that helps U.S. companies sell overseas, but one, from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), would phase out the Bank completely after a year. Republicans are split on the bill, as Lee and others would prefer a global negotiation to end all export assistance to companies.
Reid said he received a letter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday that supports passage of the bill, H.R. 2072, and warned that the Chamber would be closely watching to see which senators support Ex-Im, and which support amendments to weaken the Bank.
"The Chamber of Commerce will consider votes on this measure and any amendments that would weaken the bank ... keys to knowing whether senators are business-friendly. These kinds of amendments are unacceptable to the business community," Reid said of the GOP amendments.
Reid also read from the Chamber's letter, which said failing to reauthorize the Bank would put jobs at risk in thousands of U.S. companies that depend on Ex-Im to export to global markets.