Ex-Im amendment falls short

The House Financial Services Committee on Friday voted down an amendment that would have forced the panel to formally consider reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.

Ranking member Maxine Waters (Calif.), along with Reps. Gwen MooreGwen MooreHouse Dems urge Senate panel to vote on Ex-Im Bank nominee Maryland Senate primary intensifies Big bucks spent honoring lawmakers MORE (Wis.) and Denny HeckDenny HeckHeck enjoys second political wind Incoming lawmaker feeling a bit overwhelmed MORE (Wash.), introduced the amendment, which failed along a party-line vote of 22 to 33.

If Congress doesn’t take action, the bank's charter would expire on June 30.

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The amendment was a Democratic effort to pressure House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) — who opposes the bank as "corporate welfare" and "cronyism" — into moving a bill through his committee.

Centrist Republicans and Democrats argue that the bank helps finance U.S. companies looking to finance projects in emerging markets while sustaining millions of domestic jobs for businesses.

Hensarling hasn't said whether he will move a bill through the panel, which has jurisdiction over the bank's charter.

If he doesn't act, it’s possible that GOP leaders could bypass the committee and bring an Ex-Im bill straight to the floor.

Moore spokesman Eric Harris said that the vote makes it "abundantly clear" that Republicans on the committee "have no interest in having a serious debate on this critical matter."

"We were hoping that they would leave room for some diversity of opinion but I guess that's asking too much from the GOP of the 114th session," Harris said.

A senior aide to a Republican committee member said that the amendment vote "doesn't mean much" and said there is still widespread support for Ex-Im's reauthorization among House Republicans.

"We weren't talking about legislation, so a lot of folks just saw this as a procedural process," the aide said of the amendment.

The aide noted that Rep. Stephen FincherStephen FincherRep. Fincher to retire Export-Import Bank takes step toward renewal Transportation deal includes Ex-Im renewal MORE (R-Tenn.) introduced a five-year reauthorization bill last month with 57 Republican co-sponsors.

An aide to a different Republican on the committeee said that "this was not the place for the amendment" given that the purpose of marking-up the budget view is to address funding levels of different agencies.

"The amendment didn’t make any substantive changes to the budget as it was more of a policy initiative," the second aide said. "Conservatives understand that and voted with the chairman."

Updated at 12:43 p.m.