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Conservative groups man the ramparts ahead of Ex-Im vote

Conservative groups man the ramparts ahead of Ex-Im vote
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Conservative groups are urging senators to vote against an amendment to the transportation bill that would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

In an alert sent to senators on Friday, the Club For Growth said it would negatively score votes against lawmakers who vote for the amendment. Heritage Action, another influential group, will score against the entire transportation bill, according to a Heritage source.

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"The Export-Import Bank is a corrupt federal agency that doles out corporate welfare to politically connected companies," Andrew Roth, Club For Growth's government affairs vice president, wrote in a letter to lawmakers. "The Bank's charter expired on June 30, 2015, and it should remain dead."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' McConnell alma mater criticizes him for 1619 comments McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' MORE (R-Ky.) on Friday set up a procedural vote to reauthorize the charter of the Ex-Im Bank through September 2019.

Supporters of the bank are hoping that attaching the bank to legislation on transportation — which is needed to prevent an expiration of funding at the end of July — will overcome the strong conservative opposition to renewing the agency.

Critics argue the federally-backed bank uses taxpayer funds to finance international deals for big businesses, placing companies such as Boeing and Caterpillar at a competitive advantage against small U.S. companies.

Democrats support the bank, but the issue has created tensions between conservatives and more business-friendly Republicans. 

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls MORE (R-Texas) criticized McConnell on the Senate floor on Friday, accusing the upper chamber's leader of lying to him about whether he made a “deal” with Democrats on allowing an Ex-Im vote.

"Well, we now know that when the majority leader looks us in the eyes and makes an explicit commitment that he is willing to say things that he knows are false," said Cruz, who is a Republican presidential candidate.

The business community backs the bank, arguing that the financing it provides helps to sustain U.S. jobs. The National Association of Manufacturers alerted members, saying it would score in favor of the bill.

Ex-Im’s charter expired at the end of the July. While the agency is still operating, it is no longer able to make new loan or financing commitments.

Washington groups use key votes to score lawmakers on issues. A lawmaker's overall score can influence the organizations' decisions for campaign donations.