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Cruz dives into Ex-Im fight

Cruz dives into Ex-Im fight

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban 'Real Housewives of the GOP' — Wannabe reality show narcissists commandeer the party Is the antidote to bad speech more speech or more regulation? 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 McConnellHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban It's not 'woketivism,' it's good business 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 LeeHillicon Valley: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban Apple approves Parler's return to App Store MORE (R-Utah) and Rep. Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the Republican Study Committee.