WASHINGTON – After a heated debate and a procedural vote, the U.S. House of Representatives moved closer Monday night to the key decision on the Export-Import Bank’s future.
Lawmakers expect a final vote on renewing the bank’s charter for five years as soon as Tuesday. The federal credit agency helps American businesses sell products overseas by providing insurance and loans to foreign customers. For the first time in its 81 years, the bank’s authorization expired in July and it can’t conduct new business unless the charter is renewed.
Lawmakers voted 246-177 to approve a special discharge petition signed by a majority of its members – including 42 Republicans – that pulls the reauthorization out of the Financial Services Committee, where it was being blocked by Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and allows a vote of the full House.
More debate is expected Tuesday before an expected up-or-down vote.
Earlier in the evening, representatives sparred on disagreements that split the Republican caucus.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was the only member of the Washington delegation to vote against discharge, but said in a statement Monday night she would vote for the bill to reauthorize the bank: “Although I would have preferred to address this through the normal committee process, the reforms in this bill protect taxpayers from corruption and cronyism while moving toward the elimination of government export-financing programs altogether.”
Hensarling urged Republicans who support Ex-Im to allow the legislation to run its regular course through his committee instead of teaming up with Democrats to push it through. The petition is “the opposite of regular order,” he said.
Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., disagreed. “This is regular order. This is the only regular order we’re going to be able to do to bring up this job-creating bill,” he said, to applause from some in the chamber.
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