CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
May 14, 2012 – 11:45 p.m.
Deal Sets Up Passage of Ex-Im Bill
By Ben Weyl, CQ Staff
The Senate is set to clear a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank on Tuesday, sending the bill to President Obama for his signature after weeks of wrangling in spite of strong bipartisan support for the measure.
A top priority of the Obama administration, renewing the bank’s charter divided Republicans who have been caught between their allies in the business community — who desire passage — and free market advocacy groups that oppose government-backed export financing as a form of corporate welfare.
The final hurdle to passage was cleared after Senate leaders agreed Monday evening to permit five GOP-sponsored amendments to be offered before the vote on passage.
None of the amendments is expected to be adopted. That means the version of the bill (
The legislation would raise the Ex-Im Bank’s lending cap to $140 billion from $100 billion in stages through 2014. The bank provides direct loans, credit financing and loan guarantees to back the purchase of U.S.-made goods and services overseas. Its charter lapses at the end of this month, and the bank is also close to reaching its lending cap, creating a sense of urgency for bank supporters.
Senate Majority Leader
Reid resisted for several days, calling the amendments “egregious” and a waste of time. The Senate had been scheduled to hold a cloture vote Monday evening to permit a vote on proceeding to the bill, but Reid called it off after reaching agreement with Minority Leader
Each of the five amendments that will be allowed would either curtail some of the bank’s activities or eliminate it outright. Under the agreement, a 60-vote majority will be required for adoption of any amendment, and for passage.
The usually obscure export credit financing agency has been cast as a political football since March, when Senate Democrats first sought to reauthorize it and were blocked by Republicans. The original Senate bill, offered by Sen.
At the time, House Majority Leader
Cantor also wanted to add reporting and analysis requirements to the bank’s charter, including a provision requiring additional scrutiny of aircraft-related loans. That was a nod to concerns raised by Delta Air Lines Inc., which complains that Ex-Im Bank undermines its global competitive position by helping international carriers purchase Boeing planes.
Such conservative advocacy groups as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America also argued strongly against reauthorization. They view the bank as a distortion of free-market principles.
Deal Sets Up Passage of Ex-Im Bill
On the other side of the fight were such prominent business groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. Both groups sent letters to senators Monday warning that they would include votes on the reauthorization on their annual congressional scorecards.
“Failure to enact this legislation would put at risk the nearly 300,000 American jobs at 3,600 companies that depend on Ex-Im to compete in global markets,” wrote R. Bruce Josten, the chamber’s top lobbyist.
Cantor had worked with House Minority Whip
The House-passed bill includes some changes in bank operations aimed at increasing its transparency in a bid to appeal to conservative critics. But the bill is clearly closer to what Senate Democrats had first proposed. All 93 votes cast against the bill in the House came from Republicans, many of whom are members of the tea party wing of the GOP Conference.
Their ideological counterparts in the Senate are pushing amendments that are mostly intended to allow them to air their objections.
One, sponsored by
One vocal Senate GOP supporter of the bank,
“To my colleagues who say we shouldn’t be in this business as a government, great, but you’ve got to convince the Chinese, the British, the French, the Germans and the Canadians to get out. Because I have Boeing in my state,” Graham said. “Tomorrow is about reforming a system, but looking at the world as it really is.”
Emily Holden and Emily Cadei contributed to this story.