Texas Senator Ted Cruz signaled today he may be about to return to his favorite battlefield—the Senate floor—to fight efforts to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
Ex-Im’s charter expired June 30, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who opposes the reauthorization, has said an upcoming bill to extend highway funding past July 31 would be an “obvious” vehicle for supporters to try to revive it. Asked Wednesday if he plans to filibuster the legislation, Cruz told reporters he plans to use “any and all procedural tools” to block the it.
Cruz’s use of Senate parliamentary procedure, including the filibuster, has turned the first-term Republican into a Tea Party sensation and bolstered his 2016 presidential bid. He portrays himself as a crusader against a “Washington cartel” of lobbyists, lawmakers and big business that, in the senator's view, works against the best interests of average Americans. The Ex-Im battle gives him another opportunity to sound those themes.
The Ex-Im fight has pitted two traditionally Republican constituencies against each other. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has pushed hard to keep the bank, provides loans, loan guarantees and insurance to aid overseas sales by U.S. companies. Supporters argue that it supports American jobs by providing financing for American companies to sell goods abroad. Small-government groups like Club for Growth argue that it should go because it interferes with the free market by choosing which deals receive financial backing.
“There are a lot of campaign conservatives in the U.S. Congress,” Cruz said during the press conference. “If John Boehner and Mitch McConnell stand up and say ‘we simply will not allow the Export-Import Bank to be reauthorized,' that will ensure this corporate welfare goes away.”
He also accused Republican leaders of making a "corrupt deal" in agreeing to allow a vote to reauthorize Ex-Im in exchange for Democratic support of trade legislation last month. “If there’s no corrupt deal, then congressional leadership should stand with Senate conservatives and House conservatives,” and block attempts to reauthorize the bank, Cruz said.