House Review of Senate Highway Bill May Help Revive Ex-Im Bank

  • Bank can't approve new financing since charter expired June 30
  • Boeing and General Electric among bank's top beneficiaries

The House’s plan to consider long-term highway funding legislation next week may aid efforts to revive the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a Republican who’s a leading backer of the bank said Thursday.

House members are scheduled to consider a Senate-passed highway measure that includes a provision reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank through September 2019. Even if the House strips out that language, lawmakers would consider the matter as part of House-Senate conference committee negotiations on a final bill, according to Representative Stephen Fincher of Tennessee.

"This is good," Fincher said in an interview. "We’ll probably have a vehicle next week with Ex-Im in it, and then it will go to conference and work it out." Fincher led a bipartisan effort in the House to save the bank after Congress let its charter expire June 30.

The bank is backed overwhelmingly by rank-and-file lawmakers in both chambers, while Republican leaders oppose it.

The Ex-Im Bank provides loans and other support to overseas customers of U.S. companies such as Boeing Co. and General Electric Co. The 81-year-old institution has been unable to approve new requests for financial assistance since the beginning of July.

Top Republican congressional leaders who oppose the bank include new House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Republican Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee that oversees the bank, had blocked efforts for months to move legislation reauthorizing the bank through the committee. Hensarling calls the bank corporate welfare for big companies that don’t need government assistance. Other Republicans and most Democrats say the bank helps U.S. businesses create jobs.

QuickTake: U.S. Export-Import Bank

The House and Senate have already voted overwhelmingly to revive the bank, though in separate bills.

The Senate voted 64-29 in July to add the bank reauthorization to its long-term highway bill, H.R. 22. The House on Tuesday passed, 313-118, a stand-alone bill, H.R. 597, to revive the bank after Fincher and second-ranking House Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland gathered enough petition signatures to force a floor vote.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has said he doesn’t plan to bring the House’s separate Ex-Im bank to the Senate floor. Instead, he left the door open to reauthorizing the bank through the highway measure.

“The way to achieve Ex-Im, if it’s going to be achieved in the Senate, is in the highway bill,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

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