Mike & Co. —
After another week of surprises and certainty — or “chaos” — surrounding the future of the House GOP leadership, right before members left for a week’s recess, came a major unexpected boost for Ex-Im reauthorization today.
Good long weekends all,
Ex-Im Update — a Tree Grows in Brooklyn
You wouldn’t think that a conservative insurgency would be a hospitable climate for a moderate rank-and-file effort to resuscitate the Export-Import Bank. But as of this morning, the Bank may have a new lease on life. In just over four hours, a 218-member majority of House members signed a “discharge petition” today to bring reauthorization of the Bank to a vote on the House floor. House GOP leaders have publicly supported the bid to shutter Ex-Im Bank, but the Bank’s Republican backers say at least 100 GOP members would vote to reauthorize its charter.
Led by Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, GOP backers of the Bank joined with a majority of Democrats to execute a discharge petition — a rare procedural motion. The last successful discharge petition was in 2002, to force a vote on campaign-finance overhaul legislation. Under the rules that govern the discharge petition, a vote on legislation to save the Bank is likely to occur around October 26.
Only about 40 Republicans signed the discharge petition, meaning Fincher and his Republican allies had to rely mostly on Democratic support to force the vote. House Financial Services Chair Hensarling has fought to kill the Bank. He and other Bank opponents scored a major victory when Congress allowed its charter to expire at the end of June.
But he reacted angrily to the procedural maneuvering, arguing the Republicans pushing to reauthorize the Bank’s charter should not be working with Democrats in this way: “I hope all Republicans, regardless of their stand on this one issue, will recognize that signing a discharge petition sets a very serious, very dangerous precedent for our Republican majority that goes far beyond Ex-Im… Signing a discharge petition puts the minority in charge and effectively makes Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House. At a time when our Republican Conference is divided, this will divide it even further.”
The legislation still faces an uncertain fate in the Senate. Support there for the Bank is strong. Earlier this year, the Senate voted to attach a reauthorization of the Bank to a highway bill, which has yet to be considered in the House. But Majority Leader McConnell is an opponent and his office said he has no plans to hold a vote on a stand-alone bill. “The Senate is not going to spend a week on a bill the leader doesn’t support,” said a McConnell spokesman.
That means that, once again, reauthorization proponents will likely have to attach a charter extension to a “must-pass” piece of legislation moving through Congress.
The bid is also a test case for the question of whether the center can hold in the House for must-pass bills coming before the House in the next several weeks: Highway Trust Fund authorization expires again on October 29, the debt limit hits about November 5, and federal funding runs out on December 11.
The Bank competes against 59 other nations that have export finance agencies, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. The Bank’s two biggest clients in the United States are aviation giant Boeing and General Electric, which makes jet engines used in commercial aircraft and power-generating turbines, products frequently financed with money from Ex-Im loans.
Yesterday, Ethiopian Airlines told Boeing in a letter Ex-Im’s that shutdown raised concerns about the airline’s ability to take delivery of Boeing jets already ordered. EComair, a South African airline, delivered a similar message to Boeing last month, saying the loss of the Ex-Im could jeopardize $1.1 billion in its orders for Boeing 737-800 and 737 MAX 8 aircraft.