House Votes Overwhelmingly to Reopen the Ex-Im Bank

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from The New York Times,

The House acted with rare bipartisanship on Tuesday to approve legislation that would reopen the federal Export-Import Bank, after a debate that underscored the split between the party’s traditional pro-business members and ascendant free-market conservatives who are suspicious of big corporations.

The lopsided final vote of 313 to 118 belied that split, as a majority of Republicans allied with all but one Democrat to reauthorize the 81-year-old bank agency, but only once the bill’s passage was assured. Late Monday, just a quarter of Republicans supported an earlier vote — and an unusual legislative move — that made the final vote possible over the opposition of most party leaders.

The result, a victory for an alliance of business and organized labor, was a big step toward reversing a triumph for hard-line conservatives when they blocked the reauthorization of the small agency four months ago. Since then, the bank has been unable to offer new assistance to foreign buyers of American goods, managing only existing claims.

But the bank’s future may not be resolved until December. The House bill now goes to the Senate, which approved a similar bank reauthorization measure as part of an unrelated transportation bill. While the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, opposes the bank bill, the bipartisan House vote is expected to strengthen the hand of the bank’s proponents in negotiations over the transportation bill’s provisions.

Big and small businesses alike have increasingly complained of lost sales opportunities, and General Electric announced that it would move some operations out of the United States to take advantage of foreign countries’ export financing.

That increased the pressure by local businesses on many Republican lawmakers, but most hard-liners celebrated the bank’s lapse as a rare trophy in their battle to reduce the size and reach of the government and to cut “corporate welfare.” They were outraged by the latest turn of events.

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