Ex-Im supporter says vote coming after McCarthy exit

Ex-Im supporter says vote coming after McCarthy exit
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Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyWatchdog: Custodial staff alleged sexual harassment in lawmakers' offices John Legend, Chrissy Teigen lash out at Trump at Dem retreat Republicans call for ex-Trump lawyer Cohen to be referred to DOJ MORE's (R-Calif.) move Thursday to pull himself from the Speaker's race has made a floor vote on the Export-Import Bank all but inevitable, Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentThe Hill's Morning Report - Government is funded, but for how long? Ex-GOP lawmaker says his party is having a 'Monty Python' moment on shutdown Former GOP lawmaker: Republicans know shutdown is ‘a fight they cannot win’ MORE (R-Pa.) said Thursday.

Dent, a six-term lawmaker with close ties to outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said the success of a minority band of conservatives in driving McCarthy from the race will embolden a minority band of centrists eyeing a discharge petition to force a vote on Ex-Im.  

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“I'll tell you what this guarantees,” Dent said after leaving the GOP meeting where McCarthy made his announcement. “Tomorrow, the discharge petition on the Ex-Im Bank's going to happen. It's going to happen.

“There's a word called leverage,” he added. “And, you know, if a small handful of people around here can use their minority position to stop important bills from being considered, a minority of us can use our position, and the process, to advance good policy to save a lot of American jobs. And, frankly, to send one hell of a message. And that's what's going to happen tomorrow.”

With Democratic leaders already vowing to provide an overwhelming majority of the 218 votes needed to force a vote on Ex-Im, GOP supporters would need only a few dozen Republicans to endorse the petition. Dent said he didn't know how many Republicans are on board, but he's confident the numbers are there.

“I think we're in pretty good shape,” he said. 

Discharge petitions are rarely successful because the minority party lacks the numbers to hit 218, and members of the majority party are typically reluctant to force votes against the wishes of their leaders.

But the Ex-Im Bank, which provides financial backing to overseas buyers of U.S. products, has received wide bipartisan support, and the frustration over Congress’s failure to vote on reviving it has been building on both sides of the aisle for months. Boehner's imminent resignation has given the Republicans a window to buck the Speaker without significant political fallout. 

Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Tennessee Republican who's circulating the discharge petition, said the procedural step is “unfortunate” but necessary to save domestic jobs. 

“We’ve got no choice,” he said. “We need a vote.”

Dent argued Thursday that renewing the Ex-Im Bank serves a dual purpose. First, it would help the nation's economy by boosting exports. And second, it will send a message to conservative opponents — “the rejectionist wing of this party,” Dent called them — who consider the bank a form of corporate welfare. 

“The message is pretty simple: That we're going to let the majority of the House of Representatives have its will on this issue, and we can do it again,” Dent said. “They're trying to use the process to stop important bills from being considered; we want to use the process — through regular order, through a Republican discharge — to allow an important bill to be considered.”

McCarthy, the House majority leader, was the odds-on favorite to replace Boehner when the Speaker steps down at the end of the month. But conservatives have long been wary that McCarthy's leadership approach aligns too closely with that of Boehner's, and the Freedom Caucus this week endorsed another candidate, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), for the post.

That endorsement ensured that, while McCarthy had secured the 124 GOP votes required to win his party's nomination, he likely would have fallen short of the 218 Republicans he'd need to finalize the process on the floor later in the month.

Democrats would be no help; they're expected to vote near-unanimously for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

On Thursday, McCarthy stepped out of the Speaker's race, citing the divisive effect his candidacy has had on his conference. He intends to remain in the majority leader spot.

The move was hailed by conservatives as a victory for “bottom-up” governing following years of criticism that Boehner and his leadership team excluded rank-and-file members from the governing process.

“We have moved the debate toward a member-driven process,” Webster said Thursday.

But centrists like Dent have hammered the party's right flank, accusing them of obstructing the basic functions of government in the name of ideological purity. The conservatives may have won the first rounds of the leadership fight, Dent said, but centrists are preparing to push back — starting with the Ex-Im vote. 

“We, the government's wing, are going ... to force a vote on good policy that will protect a whole lot of American jobs,” Dent said. “And, again, we're going to send a message to them that, you know, we know how to use leverage, too. And we can do it more than once.”