Leaders in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives said
this week they would reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank before its charter
expires on Sept. 30, giving it until June 2015 as part of a package
to fund federal agencies.
Conservative groups, who say the bank's loans and loan guarantees
represent "crony capitalism," slammed the move.
Advocacy group Heritage Action urged its followers to use the
Twitter hashtag "#endexim" to tell their representatives to kill the
bank. Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller said the group would
hold "yes" votes against lawmakers.
Still, many Republicans said in interviews they expect it to pass.
That is because the extension is tied to a spending bill that must
pass this month or the government will shut down.
Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a top bank
critic, argued on Thursday against letting the government shut down
over the Ex-Im Bank, several Republicans said.
"Chairman Hensarling is probably the No. 1 opponent and he's willing
to vote for (it)," said Representative Tom Cole, an Oklahoma
Republican. "It's not his preferred course, but he understands, you
know, that's not something to shut down the government over."
The Ex-Im Bank, which lends to big companies such as Boeing Co and
Caterpillar Inc, as well as much smaller businesses, is usually
reauthorized easily. Democrats and many Republicans say it supports
middle-class American jobs.
This year, conservatives led by Hensarling fought to kill the bank,
arguing its programs belonged in the private sector.
House leaders, unwilling to end the bank right before November
elections, negotiated with Hensarling on the nine-month deal. That
postpones the issue until the next Congress, when Republicans hope
to control enough seats to reform or kill the bank."You're
effectively putting a marker as to the demise of the Ex-Im Bank,"
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said.
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But Tony Fratto of Hamilton Place Strategies, who works with
business groups to promote the Ex-Im Bank, said support is growing.
"All I know is, as we have spent time educating members about the
businesses in their districts who use the Ex-Im Bank, we have picked
up, not lost, support," Fratto said.
Others said it was unclear how lawmakers will vote. Congress spent
most of Thursday on President Barack Obama's plans to fight
militants in Iraq and Syria, not on the Ex-Im Bank.
"I'll be voting against the Ex-Im Bank," said Representative Justin
Amash, a Tea Party Republican from Michigan. "There will be plenty
of people who oppose the (bill) because of the Ex-Im Bank, but it's
not clear how the whole thing shakes out because of the conflict in
the Middle East."
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson and Amanda Becker, additional
reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Caren Bohan and Andre Grenon)
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