WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a strong show of support, a majority of Republicans voted with Democrats on Tuesday to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which provides favorable financing to U.S. companies seeking to sell products abroad and protects them against foreign buyer defaults.
If the Senate also approves the measure and President Barack Obama signs it, as expected, it would mark a resounding back-from-the-dead victory for the organization — and a blow to the Republicans who have vilified the bank and let it lapse months ago.
Many Republicans pushing for a smaller government refused to authorize it and the bank’s charter expired on June 30. Ex-Im supporters said the closure cost thousands of American manufacturing jobs.
On Tuesday, the House sent a resounding message to get the bank back up and running, voting 313 to 118 in favor of the legislation. In what some considered a surprise, 127 Republicans voted yes, while 117 voted no. A lone Democrat opposed the bill.
No. 2 House Republican Kevin McCarthy is strongly opposed to the bank, breaking with House Speaker John Boehner, who favors its reauthorization.
“Do we let government pick and choose who it gives special taxpayer loans to or not?” McCarthy asked on the House floor, also arguing that the bank has been linked to several fraud investigations.
Republican Justin Amash voted no as well, slamming Ex-Im as a “corrupt wealth transfer to big business.”
But Congressman Rick Nolan insisted Ex-Im is an American job generator that helps pay down the debt. The bank “doesn’t cost the taxpayers a single penny,” he said, “it creates tens of thousands of jobs all across the country, and it yields a $7 billion profit for deficit reduction. … Life should be so good if we had a few more agencies like that.”
Last month, General Electric said it was moving about 500 jobs outside the United States, most of them to France, blaming the congressional shuttering of Ex-Im for the shift.
The Senate passed a bank reauthorization in July by a vote of 64 to 29, but it was in the form of an amendment to a bill that stalled in the chamber.