Business groups vow continued push for Ex-Im Bank after Cantor loss

Business groups vowed on Wednesday to plow ahead with their efforts to pass a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank despite the loss of a chief ally in their fight.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the push would continue despite House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorRyan seeks to avoid Boehner fate on omnibus GOPers fear trillion-dollar vote is inevitable Insiders dominate year of the outsider MORE’s surprising primary loss.

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“The necessity for reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank for small and medium manufacturers across the country hasn’t changed,” said Linda Dempsey, vice president of international economic affairs at NAM. 

“This remains a top priority for manufacturers and we will continue to tell the story of how the Bank supports U.S. exports and jobs in districts across the country, to both sides of the aisle.”

But Cantor's run in House leadership is expected to end July 31 — he will hold a press conference at around 4:30 p.m. — and that could put a crimp in efforts to pass a reauthorization, which is opposed by many House conservatives.

Cantor has been a supporter of the Bank and in 2012 worked with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to renew Ex-Im for two years.

On Wednesday, Hoyer said it remains unclear how Cantor's election loss will affect the debate.

"There's overwhelming support for that [the bank]," Hoyer said.

"I would hope that Mr. Cantor would pursue that, notwithstanding the election results of last night."

But Cantor's position will be weakened when he removes himself from the No. 2 spot in House leadership before the August recess. 

The Bank's proponents know that the clock is ticking and they have only about two months — excluding the summer recess — to find a path to a reauthorization by the end of September, when Ex-Im's charter expires. 

After that, the agency would be unable to grant new loans. 

Supporters argue that the Bank is needed to help U.S. firms compete in the global economy and gain a foothold in foreign markets.

Conservatives opposing Ex-Im argue that it is a form of corporate welfare and endangers taxpayers. 

Still, business groups were cautious on Wednesday about wading too far into any potential strategy changes as the leadership situation shakes out on Capitol Hill.

“While it will take some time to understand the dynamics surrounding the outcome of his race, we wish Mr. Cantor and his family nothing but the best in the coming weeks and months,” a Chamber spokesperson said.

Those uncertainties surround who will take Cantor’s place in the leadership with many conservative Republicans lining up to vie for a spot.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who strongly opposes renewing Ex-Im, is the favorite of some conservatives to become the next majority leader.

He said that several lawmakers are urging him to go for a spot in the GOP leadership.

But Hensarling has launched a campaign to abolish the Bank.

While Cantor has backed the Bank, he said last month on the House floor that he would look to Hensarling to handle Ex-Im Bank matters.

"I will look to him and his leadership on that issue as the committee works its way through the varying issues," Cantor said. "We will see what the Financial Services Committee does."