Cruz won’t rule out filibuster of highway bill

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) did not rule out filibustering a federal transportation-funding bill if it includes an amendment to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

“I’m willing to use any and all procedural tools to stop this corporate welfare and this corruption from being propagated,” Cruz said at a press conference in Washington on Wednesday.

{mosads}Cruz was flanked by leaders of top conservative groups, including Heritage Action and Tea Party Patriots, which have clashed with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers over the bank’s future.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, also attended the press conference.

The Export-Import Bank expired at the end of June, but supporters hope to see the House and Senate move legislation extending the charter this month. Ex-Im finances overseas investments by U.S. companies. Supporters argue its work is better done by the private sector, but supporters argue the bank helps create U.S. jobs and that economic rivals of the United States would benefit if the bank was killed.

The most likely path for the bank’s charter to be extended is for it to be added to the transportation or highway bill. Authority for federal transportation funding expires at the end of July, and Congress is unlikely to leave Washington without extending it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has signaled he’ll allow the Senate to vote on a bill combining Ex-Im with transportation funding. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has suggested that if the Senate passes such a bill, it will come up for a vote in the House and opponents will have a chance to vote on an amendment removing the Ex-Im language.

But with Democrats backing Ex-Im and the House GOP divided, that vote would almost certainly fail, ensuring Ex-Im’s passage.

The House will vote later on Wednesday on a bill extending transportation funding through the end of the year. Conservatives hope that vote will give them leverage against the Senate, and that Congress will move a highway bill with no language on Ex-Im.

Cruz could be a key figure in the coming debate, and he sought to pressure McConnell and Boehner with his comments.

“This town knows how to work to benefit the rich and powerful,” Cruz said. “What we’re trying to do is help our elected officials to represent the men and women of America — our constituents — instead of the wealthy power brokers here in Washington.”

Cruz and 14 other GOP presidential candidates oppose the bank. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and former-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) are the only two GOP candidates who support it.

Cruz was an influential player in the GOP fight over ObamaCare in 2013 that led to a 16-day government shutdown.

The Texas business community slammed Cruz’s press conference.

Both the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Association of Manufacturers said in a joint-statement that Cruz “has failed to understand that and chooses, again and again, to put politics ahead of economic progress and payrolls for his constituents.” 

Tags Export-Import Bank Highway funding John Boehner Mitch McConnell Ted Cruz
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