House Passes Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization Bill Opposed by White House, McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 22, 2019. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

The House passed a bill along party lines Friday to fund and revamp the Export-Import Bank, the agency that finances exports of U.S. goods and services to other countries.

The lower chamber voted 235-to-184 to pass the legislation, which reauthorizes the agency for ten years. Only 13 House Republicans voted for the measure. The bill now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is considered dead on arrival.

Senator Mitch McConnell said Thursday that the Senate would not take up the House bill, saying the upper chamber would rather fund the bank in a broader government spending bill.

The White House budget office also expressed opposition to the measure but said it supports the reauthorization of the Ex-Im bank under other terms.

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“The Administration is committed to the long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank,” the budget office said in a statement on Thursday. “[The House bill], however, does not represent the type of bipartisan, bicameral approach needed to appropriately accomplish that goal.”

The House passed the Ex-Im bank bill after Democrats rejected a broader bipartisan effort to reach a comprehensive solution regarding funding and organizing the bank.

Conservatives have criticized the bank as a “corporate welfare agency” and oppose authorizing the agency to provide funding to firms associated with the Chinese government, saying it subsidizes Beijing. Supporters of the bank argue, however, that U.S. companies would suffer without it when they bid against foreign competitors for international purchases.

Funding for the Ex-Im bank will likely be extended through the end of the year in the upcoming budget bill to avoid shutting down the government over the controversial agency. The 85-year-old bank temporarily shut down for five months in 2015 when congressional Republicans allowed its charter to lapse, preventing it from providing new loans to foreign purchasers of American goods and barring renewals of American companies’ export-credit insurance policies.

The Ex-Im bank’s current authorization ends on November 21.

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