Senate

Senate Dems demand Ex-Im vote

Greg Nash

Seizing on a successful vote in the House, Senate Democrats are clamoring for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring up a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

“I would hope over here the Republican leader would move forward on this now,” Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday. “We should get this done this week.” 
 
{mosads}The Senate previously included Ex-Im reauthorization in a highway bill, but Reid suggested that senators shouldn’t wait for a conference agreement on that legislation before taking action.
 
“The highway bill should stand or fall on its own merits, and this legislation … We have Republicans who will vote with us,” Reid said.
 
Lawmakers in the House on Wednesday evening approved a reauthorization of the bank’s charter by a 313-118 vote, with 127 Republicans voting in favor.
 
The reauthorization passed the House through the use of a discharge petition, a rarely used legislative tactic that effectively cut Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) — an opponent of Ex-Im — out of the process.
 
Conservative critics of the bank say it is a form of corporate welfare that should be abolished. They scored a victory in June when Ex-Im’s charter was allowed to expire, preventing the bank from issuing new loans.
 
Supporters of the bank say the financing provided by the agency is important for jobs and the economy.
 
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said the patience of Ex-Im supporters “has run thin.”
 
“We were told the only way we could possibly get it through the House of Representatives was if it were put on a must-pass piece of legislation,” she said. “That myth has disappeared. That theory is no longer available.” 
 
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), another prominent support of the bank, said senators have made “a mistake” by allowing the minority of senators who oppose Ex-Im to block its charter from being reauthorized. 
 
“The dirty little secret is out in Washington. That is, that you can’t pass the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization because there isn’t enough support in the Congress to do so,” she said. “That was a bunch of hooey promulgated by some conservative think tanks who wanted to hold conservative Republicans hostage.”
 
But supporters of the Export-Import Bank face an uphill battle in the Senate, where McConnell is opposed to moving a stand-alone bill. 
 
“The way to achieve Ex-Im, if it’s going to be achieved in the Senate, would be in the context of the highway bill,” he told reporters Tuesday, reiterating that a stand-alone bill won’t get floor time. 
 
Asked about how to get reauthorization through the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Tuesday suggested that figuring out a path rests squarely with Republicans.
 
“This is McConnell’s call,” he told The Hill. “He’s going to have two paths to Export-Import Bank reauthorization: Either the [House] bill or the transportation bill, whichever he chooses I hope that we can get it done quickly for a five-year extension.” 
Tags Dick Durbin Harry Reid Heidi Heitkamp Maria Cantwell Mitch McConnell
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