House approves Ex-Im renewal

House approves Ex-Im renewal
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A majority of House Republicans joined all but one Democrat Tuesday in voting to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, whose charter expired in June.

After a rare procedural move brought Export-Import to the House floor against the wishes of GOP leaders, the bank saw surprising support in the 313-118 vote to renew, including from 127 Republicans.

Supporters of the Export-Import Bank used a discharge petition to force the vote. The use of a discharge petition allows legislation to skip the committee process and go straight to the floor if a majority in the House backs the petition.

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Forty-two Republicans signed the petition earlier this month, which led to a vote on discharging the measure from the House Rules Committee. Sixty-two Republicans voted Monday in favor of discharging the bill, though a majority of Republicans then voted for the underlying legislation.

This is the first time a discharge petition has been used to dislodge legislation in the House since 2002, when the process was used for the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill. 

While the votes are a big victory for supporters of the bank, it’s unclear whether it will lead to passage in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGiuliani: White House wants briefing on classified meeting over Russia probe GOP senators introduce Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Trump now says Korea summit could still happen June 12 MORE (R-Ky.) opposes allowing a stand-alone Ex-Im bill to move in the upper chamber. 

Asked Tuesday if Ex-Im reauthorization would get floor time amid a packed legislative schedule, McConnell told reporters on Tuesday: “Well, no, not in the Senate.”

Supporters appear to have the votes in the Senate to win reauthorization on the floor.

In July, 24 senators joined with Democrats in a 67-26 vote to advance a reauthorization bill written by Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThis week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill Trump attending Senate GOP lunch Tuesday High stakes as Trump heads to Hill MORE (R-Ill.), one of the most vulnerable GOP senators heading into 2016. 

One possible way forward for Ex-Im is for the reauthorization bill to be attached to another vehicle, such as legislation to renew highway funding.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThunePoll: 8 in 10 people in key states concerned about driverless cars Hillicon Valley: Mnuchin urges antitrust review of tech | Progressives want to break up Facebook | Classified election security briefing set for Tuesday | Tech CEOs face pressure to appear before Congress Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, suggested supporters focus on that bill.

“I think that's probably — for Ex-Im Bank supporters — probably the best path forward,” he said. 

Opponents of the bank also said the House vote raised the odds it will eventually be renewed by the Senate.

“Unfortunately, it looks like they’re going to be able to resurrect this thing,” said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

The GOP lawmakers voting for Ex-Im were frustrated business-minded Republicans who are typically leadership allies. 

Rep. Stephen FincherStephen Lee FincherTensions on immigration erupt in the House GOP Trump backs Blackburn's Tennessee Senate bid Corker backs Blackburn for Senate seat after retirement tensions MORE (R-Tenn.) joined forces with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) over the summer to spearhead the discharge petition, which requires 218 signatures to move forward.

“This is about us being competitive all around the world,” Fincher said.

The push to discharge Ex-Im intensified after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) abruptly dropped out of the race this month to succeed BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJim Jordan as Speaker is change America needs to move forward Paul Ryan’s political purgatory Republicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt MORE as Speaker. House conservatives were blamed for McCarthy dropping out, and it energized Ex-Im supporters.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDon't let them fool you — Republicans love regulation, too Senate harassment bill runs into opposition from House The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — The art of walking away from the deal MORE (R-Wis.), who’s expected to be elected Speaker this week, is among the bank’s opponents. He also does not support the use of discharge petitions. 

“This thing is crony capitalism,” Ryan said of the bank.

A spokesman for House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a vocal opponent Ex-Im, said that a majority of Republicans on the bank's panel of jurisdiction oppose reauthorization.

"He is unaware of any committee chairman — Republican or Democrat — who ever moved a bill in committee that a majority of the majority opposes," spokesman Jeff Emerson said.

The use of the discharge petition has angered conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus, who argue that GOP lawmakers backing discharge petitions are empowering Democrats.

Leadership allies have argued that Freedom Caucus members should be punished for their votes against House GOP rules governing floor debate.

But Jordan said he doesn’t think lawmakers who vote for discharge petitions should be punished for voting their conscience either.

“I think they never should have tried to do what they did to Mark [Meadows],” Jordan said in an interview, referring to the North Carolina Republican punished by GOP leaders earlier this year for voting against a rule. “I don’t fault people for using whatever legal parliamentary maneuver they can use to advance what they believe in.”

Jordain Carney contributed.