Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said Tuesday the Senate should move Export-Import Bank authorizing legislation despite opposition from House GOP conservatives.
The bank, which finances U.S. exports, is imperiled after its main champion in the House, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), lost his post in the leadership
McConnell voted against the bank in the recent past but he said Tuesday it's worth considering this year.
“I think we ought to take it up,” he told reporters. “The last time it was up I didn’t support it but I don’t think that’s an argument for not bringing it up.”
McConnell has been arguing for weeks that the Senate should be allowed to debate more issues on the floor.
“That’s the whole point of what we’ve been talking about here. The fact that there are dissent and disagreement is not unusual,” he said. “It’s a country of 315 million people, lot of different points of view. They expect us to debate these issues and vote on them here in the Senate.”
McConnell said he’s not sure whether he would vote to reauthorize the bank but added: “I do think it’s an issue that’s important enough to be debated and voted on here in the Senate.”
Saving the Export-Import Bank, which is vital to major American companies such as Boeing, is a top priority of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday pressed the House to pass Ex-Im Bank legislation. He said he is open-minded about moving a bill in the Senate first.
“I’m not wed to who does it first,” he said.
Reid noted that McConnell supported the Export-Import Bank before voting against its authorization more recently.
“I was told walking in here that Sen. McConnell said he hadn’t made up his mind how he was going to vote on it yet but he voted for it in the past,” Reid said. “I think it’s really important we have legislation like this that has the wide support of business groups around the country.”
—This story was updated at 2:56 p.m.