WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives reauthorized the Export-Import Bank, closed since it lost its charter in July, in a rare bipartisan coalition.
The government agency, which offers loans and loan guarantees to U.S. companies seeking to sell products in foreign markets, is regarded as an example of corporate welfare by hardline right-wing conservatives in Congress, who have aggressively inveighed against it. The bank was unable to conduct business during the summer.
A measure to revive the bank passed in the House Tuesday by 313 to 118, with over half the House's Republicans voting in favor of it, after a seldom-successful procedural maneuver, a discharge petition, was used to move legislation held back by Congressional leaders. It is regarded as a win for business and a rebuke to GOP leaders who kept the bill from debate.
The conservative elements in the House, critical of lobbying attempts by large companies including General Electric Co. and Boeing Co., say the Export-Import Bank allows the government to choose which corporation to favor.
"They're great companies. I just wonder why they have to receive government subsidies," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who led the campaign to terminate the agency.
Republican presidential candidates in Congress all oppose the bank. Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, supports it, and pledged to "clean the barn" of unfinished legislative business before his imminent retirement.
The House has not yet acted on a transportation bill to which the Export-Import Bank reauthorization is attached, and although a Senate amendment approved the bank in July, Senate leaders are unlikely to vote on a standalone measure to assure the bank's return.