The House on Wednesday night rejected efforts to derail a renewal of the Export-Import Bank, virtually assuring a new life for the agency.
A group of House Democrats and Republicans led the charge to block 10 GOP amendments to a long-term highway bill that supporters argued would hamper the chances of reviving the bank’s charter, which expired at the end of June.
"Tonight, Democrats and Republicans came together once again to send a resounding message that the Export-Import Bank ought to be reopened immediately," said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in a statement.
"In defeating a series of amendments that would have put the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank in jeopardy, we showed the American people that a strong majority continues to support the bank," he said.
Hoyer said that the votes allow House-Senate conferees on the broader highway measure to approve the bank's renewal.
House opponents successfully shut down the bank this summer, spurring a bipartisan plan to breathe life back into the agency through the first successful discharge petition in 13 years.
Rep. Stephen FincherStephen FincherRep. Fincher to retire Export-Import Bank takes step toward renewal Transportation deal includes Ex-Im renewal MORE (R-Tenn.), who worked with Hoyer over the summer on the discharge petition, said Wednesday that “this is a Republican reform bill, we should be happy when Democrats want to cross the aisle to support Republican ideas.”
“These are bogus arguments, these are amendments to kill the bank,” he said on the House floor.
“It’s sad when people put their political scorecards above their constituents,” Fincher said.
Fincher argued that supportive lawmakers worked for 18 months on a bill before finally using the rare procedural route to get the bill a vote on the House floor.
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who supports the Ex-Im renewal, said during debate that he suspected that “many of the amendments we’re seeing here tonight are not designed to make the bill better but simply to take it down.”
Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), a member of the House Freedom Caucus who offered five of the amendments and is opposed to the renewal, argued that Ex-Im’s loan portfolio holds too heavy a concentration in certain sectors and geographic areas.
“This is a really really bad way to run a bank,” Mulvaney said. “And it would be of course if this is a bank, but it’s not a bank, it’s a government program and it should be run by a bank,” he said.
Rep. Denny HeckDenny HeckExclusive: Guccifer 2.0 hacked memos expand on Pennsylvania House races Heck enjoys second political wind Incoming lawmaker feeling a bit overwhelmed MORE (D-Wash.) countered that Mulvaney’s amendment compels diversification for the sake of diversity and is not based on need or creditworthiness.
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), another Ex-Im supporter, urged colleagues to vote against the amendments and “fight the fight we fought last week again,” saying “let’s give American business an opportunity to compete with the rest of the world.”
“Who knows, we might have to do this three or four more times but let’s keep doing the right thing for American workers, let’s keep doing the right thing for American business,” Lucas said. “That’s all I’m asking and abide by the decision of the House and the majority of the majority.”
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued on the floor that all the amendments, “however well intentioned or thought out,” have the additional burden of taking down the bank.
“Maybe you save them for another day but in the here and now we do not need any amendments on the Ex-Im Bank in the transportation bill," she said.
In July, 24 senators joined Democrats in a 67-26 vote to advance a bank reauthorization bill as part of the upper chamber’s highway measure.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellGOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday Senators introduce dueling miners bills Dems demand second hearing for Trump's Education nominee MORE (R-Ky.) refused to bring up the a stand-alone Ex-Im bill even after the House passed it with a strong vote, forcing supporters to keep the measure in the highway funding legislation.
The three-year $325 billion highway bill is expected to head to a House-Senate conference once the lower chamber completes its work on the bill, which is likely sometime Thursday.