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Friday, October 21, 2016

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — A U.S. House of Representatives petition to revive the shuttered U.S. Export-Import Bank drew enough support on Friday to force a vote as soon as Oct. 26 but the effort to renew the trade bank’s charter faced obstacles in the Senate.

The 218 representatives, including 42 Republicans, who signed the so-called “discharge petition” — a procedural maneuver that has been successful only a handful of times in the past century — effectively overrules House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling.

Hensarling has declined to move legislation on the bank’s charter, which expired on June 30, and said the petition sets a “very dangerous precedent” for the Republican Party, which is embroiled in a divisive leadership struggle in the House.

“At a time when our Republican conference is divided, this will divide it even further,” Hensarling said in a statement.

EXIM backers hailed the move as a breakthrough to reopen the bank, which offers loans, loan guarantees and trade insurance that helps foreign customers buy U.S.-produced goods and services.

Some Republicans and outside political groups have targeted the bank as an example of “corporate welfare” for large, wealthy companies such as Boeing <BA.N>, Caterpillar <CAT.N> and General Electric <GE.N>. Supporters say it allows U.S. companies to compete overseas, and produced $675 million in revenue for federal coffers last year.

The bank has been unable to write new business for more than three months, and several companies have announced the loss of export contracts due to lack of EXIM financing. GE has agreed to move manufacturing jobs to France, Canada, Britain, Hungary and China to gain access to those countries’ export finance support.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is among those who oppose renewing the trade bank, and has already dismissed the idea of taking up the renewal bill expected to pass on Oct 26.

“The Senate is not going to spend a week on a bill that the leader doesn’t support,” McConnell’s spokesman, Don Stewart, said on Friday.

However, the House EXIM bill would match word-for-word a measure passed by the Senate in July as an amendment to a long-term transportation bill. That bill was never taken up by the House, but the 65 Senate votes it collected indicates that the EXIM provision could likely be attached to another transportation spending bill needed by the end of October.

(Reporting By David Lawder and Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Grant McCool)

Photo: The U.S. Capitol is lit in Washington February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Oh gee…the Grand Ole Partisans are disagreeing? On a bank issue? Have the unicorn herds returned?

    • John Murchison

      That and the flying pigs!

  • Otto Greif

    The power of corporate welfare.

    • Eleanore Whitaker

      Corporate welfare never lasts. It still comes down to reckless, ruthless, irresponsible men who have a Greed Gene. Every one of the Robber Barons of the early 1900s, went broke. Some committed suicide in the Crash of ’29 rather than face those they bilked. Madoff, more recently, bilked his own clients of $67 billion while he lived like a pig.

      All three Bush brothers dumped bankruptcies on taxpayers. This is responsible? This is intelligence?

      All it tells me is that some men are lousy businessmen and should never, EVER own a business. Taxpayers are getting fed up handing over our tax dollars to these ruthless creeps. When the government pays out more than 50% to corporations in tax subsidies, how are individual taxpayers not overburdened? And just why do corporations who payout tens of billions to their CEOs need a dime of our tax dollars?

      Nothing in the US Constitution makes it the duty of taxpayers to keep any corporation in business.