By Vicki Needham - 12/03/15 10:15 PM EST
The Export-Import Bank is alive.
Renewal of the 81-year-old institution's charter was included in a five-year, $305 billion federal transportation measure that passed the Senate late Thursday on an 83-16 vote, only one day ahead of the expiration of the latest short-term funding patch.
Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkGreat Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Iran sending ships to Yemeni coast after US ship fires at Houthi sites MORE (R-Ill.), who worked with a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues to pass an Ex-Im reauthorization, applauded the renewal.
“We brought the Export-Import Bank back to life so American manufacturers and workers can compete against our foreign competitors on a level playing field,” Kirk said in a statement.
“We should ship goods, not jobs, overseas," he added.
The House passed the bill earlier in the day on a 359-65 vote.
Ex-Im's charter, which expired in June, is reauthorized through fiscal 2019. The bank helps U.S. firms finance overseas projects.
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamThe Trail 2016: Who is really winning? Graham: GOP Senate could rein in Clinton White House The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-S.C.), another leading proponent of the bank, said he is pleased that the bill will reach the president's desk.
"I don’t think there is any doubt that the shutdown of Ex-Im cost us jobs in South Carolina and across the nation,” Graham said.
"It was irresponsible for the United States to unilaterally disarm while other nations with export credit agencies, many of them much larger than ours, took advantage of our unforced error," he added. "We should never make that mistake again."
Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidObama seeks down-ballot gains after being midterm loser Reid: 'I have set the Senate' for nuclear option Obama in Nevada: 'Heck no' to Trump, Joe Heck MORE (D-Nev.) called the Ex-Im Bank "an important tool for American workers."
"Republicans forced the bank’s charter to expire and cost us five months of economic opportunity," he said.
The Exporters For Ex-Im Coalition called the House and Senate votes "a significant victory for U.S. manufacturing."
The battle over the renewal of the bank's charter pitted House conservatives — who wanted the agency shuttered — against business groups, dividing the GOP.
"The Ex-Im Bank is critical to keeping America competitive in the global economy," said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.
"Unfortunately, a small but vocal minority of House members let the bank lapse in the first place."
The Senate initially included the Ex-Im revival in its transportation bill, which was passed during the summer.
But House conservatives put up a series of hurdles, and the bill's path to the floor seemed blocked until a bipartisan group of lawmakers stirred up enough votes for a rarely used procedural motion called a discharge petition to force a floor vote.
As a result, the chamber easily passed the Ex-Im renewal via a 313-118 vote in early November, with 127 Republicans backing the bank’s reauthorization. The vote provided clear evidence of support for the bill, landing the Ex-Im reauthorization in a final transportation compromise worked our earlier this week.