Cruz dives into Ex-Im fight

Cruz dives into Ex-Im fight

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhat to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Democrats' impeachment case lands with a thud with GOP — but real audience is voters Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE (R-Texas) is putting himself front and center in the fight over reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, as the presidential hopeful looks to raise his profile in the crowded 2016 field.

Cruz, who has frequently worked with House conservatives and has been a thorn in the side of GOP leaders in the lower chamber, is holding a press conference on Wednesday to call on House and Senate GOP leaders not to tie Ex-Im’s reauthorization to a highway spending bill.

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The Republican presidential candidate has thus far failed to gain traction in the polls. In taking on Ex-Im, he is looking to become a leading voice on an issue that has incited many on the GOP’s conservative wing.

The bank, which helps finance U.S. companies’ projects in foreign markets, has come under fire from groups including Freedom Partners and Heritage Action, who say it doles out corporate welfare for favored companies.

“The Export-Import Bank operates outside of common sense,” Cruz wrote in a July 2014 USA Today op-ed attack the bank.

Bank critics hope Cruz will exert pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum No. 2 GOP leader eyes Wednesday of next week for possible votes on witnesses MORE (R-Ky.) to resist efforts to renew the 81-year-old bank’s charter following its expiration at the end of last month.

Veronique de Rugy, a scholar at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, which has been critical of Ex-Im, said Cruz will be “an even more important player against Ex-Im in the next few weeks as many in the Senate will try to attach an Ex-Im reauthorization to the highway bill.”

McConnell told The Associated Press last month that Ex-Im supporters “have the votes” to pass legislation and that he’d “give them the opportunity” on the Senate floor despite his personal opposition to it.

Just how far Cruz will go to prevent that from happening remains unclear.

“All options remain on the table for ensuring that the Export-Import Bank continues to wind down,” said Cruz spokesman Phil Novack.

Many in Washington blamed Cruz for the partial shutdown of 2013, after he pressed House Republicans to fund the government only if ObamaCare was defunded and railed against the healthcare law for 21 hours on the Senate floor.

Tony Fratto, a former Republican Treasury official who is working with businesses to reauthorize the bank, said the same.

“The small group of reckless [lawmakers] who previously tried to shut down the government now are trying to thwart the will of the majority,” Fratto said.

Business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have forged a coalition with Democrats and centrist Republicans to back the bank.

Most Ex-Im watchers argue that there are enough votes in both chambers to extend the bank’s charter. Though it cannot facilitate any new loans without a charter, it can still meet obligations on arrangements in its existing portfolio, many of which last several years.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Cruz will be joined by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe self-fulfilling Iran prophecy No patriotic poll bump for Trump, but Soleimani strike may still help him politically Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it MORE (R-Utah) and Rep. Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresDemocrats push to end confidentiality for oil companies that don't add ethanol The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising The Hill's Morning Report — Trump broadens call for Biden probes MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the Republican Study Committee.