House uses rare move to reau­tho­rize Ex-Im Bank Dis­charge pe­ti­tion forced is­sue onto floor

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

The House voted Tues­day to re­vive the fed­eral Ex­port-Im­port Bank, cap­ping an un­usual end-run around GOP lead­ers and vex­ing con­ser­va­tives who say the lapsed credit agency cor­rupted the free mar­ket and should fade away.

A ma­jor­ity of Repub­li­cans teamed with all but one Demo­crat to reau­tho­rize the bank known as “Ex-Im,” 313 votes to 118, af­ter cen­trists in the House GOP con­fer­ence cir­cu­lated a dis­charge pe­ti­tion this month to force the is­sue onto the floor.

The ma­neu­ver is ex­tremely rare, as it skirts the com­mit­tee process and lends power to the mi­nor­ity party. But its Repub­li­can back­ers said they had no choice but to team with Democrats, af­ter GOP lead­ers let the Ex-Im ex­pire June 30 and then re­fused to throw it a life­line when com­pa­nies re­ported lay­offs and other dam­age.

“The pas­sage of this bill marks a his­toric day in the House,” said Rep. Stephen Fincher, Ten­nessee Repub­li­can who spon­sored the ef­fort. “This is a win for small busi­nesses, hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans and for rank-and-file mem­bers who want to get things done for their con­stituents.”

The White House says Pres­i­dent Obama is ea­ger to re­vive the bank, a prod­uct of the New Deal that fi­nances the sale of U.S. goods over­seas, al­though it is un­clear if the Sen­ate will fol­low the House’s lead.

The bank hasn’t been able to ex­tend any new credit since July 1, en­thus­ing the con­ser­va­tive move­ment and alarm­ing busi­ness groups who say the bank bol­stered jobs and helped Amer­i­can firms com­pete in global mar­kets. Un­less Congress acts, the Ex-Im will to con­tinue to un­wind its busi­ness and then dis­ap­pear.

Vo­cal Repub­li­cans such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wis­con­sin say the bank tilted the scales in fa­vor of spe­cific com­pa­nies, and con­ser­va­tives shouldn’t for­feit a key win by reau­tho­riz­ing the bank.

“Are we go­ing to re­ward good work or good con­nec­tions?” said Mr. Ryan, who is set to be elected speaker later this week. “I think there are plenty other ways to ex­pand op­por­tu­nity in this coun­try, and cor­po­rate wel­fare is not one of them.”

Sen. Mitch McCon­nell, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can, op­poses the bank and says he doesn’t want to de­vote floor time to it, so Ex-Im sup­port­ers could try to at­tach it to un­re­lated, must-pass leg­is­la­tion.

Nearly two thirds of the Sen­ate voted to bring back the Ex-Im in July as part of high­way leg­is­la­tion, and Mr. McCon­nell al­luded Tues­day to a six-year roads bill that’s be­ing ne­go­ti­ated with the House.

“It’s pretty clear there are a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of sen­a­tors who sup­port [the bank],” he said. “The way to achieve Ex-Im, if it’s go­ing to be achieved in the Sen­ate, would be in the con­text of the high­way bill.”

Tues­day’s de­bate reignited the fight over “reg­u­lar or­der,” a leg­isla­tive ideal in which bills are care­fully vet­ted through com­mit­tees be­fore they went their way to the floor.

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