The U.S. Export-Import Bank’s charter may lapse in June even though the Senate majority leader has agreed to allow a vote on extending it, Senator Lindsey Graham said.
Graham, a South Carolina Republican who backs re-authorizing the bank, said an agreement with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will allow senators to show their support for the institution in a June vote. The bank’s charter, which expires June 30, may still lapse, Graham said.
Graham and others supporting the bank had threatened to withhold their votes Thursday on advancing trade legislation backed by President Barack Obama and McConnell. They ultimately backed the bill after McConnell said the Senate would vote in June on whether to re-authorize the bank.
“Next month there will be an opportunity for the Senate to go on the record on the reauthorization of the bank,” Don Stewart, a McConnell spokesman, said in an e-mail. “It doesn’t guarantee it passes. But there will be an opportunity for a vote.”
The bank, which provides loans, guarantees and insurance to help foreign companies buy U.S. products, faces stiff opposition from Republicans, especially in the House. McConnell opposes re-authorizing the institution.
Graham told reporters he realizes a June vote in the Senate on the bank’s charter isn’t likely to lead to a measure being sent to President Barack Obama. He said he wants to attach the Ex-Im re-authorization to highway funding legislation that is planned for a July vote, “something that must pass.”
Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat who also supports the bank, said she resisted adding her Ex-Im re-authorization amendment to a highway funding bill. That’s because the highway bill isn’t expected to be voted on until July, after the bank’s charter expires.
Cantwell, Graham and Senator Patty Murray of Washington, a member of the Democratic leadership, were among a group of bank supporters who helped McConnell gain enough votes Thursday to move the trade measure forward.
The bill, which would let Obama submit trade agreements to Congress for an expedited, up-or-down vote without amendments, needed 60 votes to move forward in the chamber. Sixty-two senators voted for it.