Johanns will back Ex-Im Bank reauthorization

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) said Wednesday he is co-sponsoring legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank but warned that the bill’s passage is contingent on the Democratic leader allowing amendments.

Johanns said while he support's the 80-year-old agency, it will be up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow amendments on the floor and smooth passage for legislation. 

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“The Ex-Im Bank helps to create American jobs, costs taxpayers nothing, and actually contributes to deficit reduction,” Johanns said.

“Let me be clear, however, this legislation will not pass unless Sen. Reid puts American jobs over the political careers of vulnerable Democrats by allowing Senators to offer amendments," he said.

Johanns said he supported that 2012 authorization— which passed the Senate 78-20 — after Reid allowed amendments.

Republicans have grown increasingly frustrated over the Senate floor process that they say isn't allowing them to offer amendments.

Last week, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he expects a bill to pass the Senate before the August recess. He said he had spoken to Reid about moving a bill through the Senate Banking Committee and onto the floor by then. 

But Johanns said he is concerned with more than just the Ex-Im measure.

“The Ex-Im Bank reauthorization is not the only bipartisan legislation that has been issued a death sentence," Johanns said.

"Terrorism Insurance, the sportsmen’s package, energy bills and appropriations legislation are all in jeopardy because Sen. Reid is acting like a dictator and silencing the voices of Americans who elected us to represent them."

Johanns is one of a growing number of Republicans who have said they will back legislation that is expected to be introduced soon by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) are among other Republicans who have expressed support for extending the bank’s charter, which would expire Sept. 30 without congressional action.

"The Ex-Im Bank plays an important role because many foreign governments provide heavy assistance to their nation’s exporters, which distorts foreign markets and creates an unfair disadvantage for American exporters," Johanns said. 

The House and Senate provided solid backing for the bank's reauthorization in 2012 after a series of reforms were added to the bill and amendments. 

The House voted 330-93 to keep the bank up and running two years ago.