U.S. lawmakers will begin voting on Monday on legislation to revive the shuttered Export-Import Bank, a spokeswoman for a leading Republican backer of the bank said on Friday.
A so-called “discharge petition,” a procedural maneuver that has been successful only a handful of times in the past century, to renew the trade bank’s charter matures on Monday.
The petition has support from 218 lawmakers, a majority of the chamber, including 42 Republicans, effectively overruling House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a vocal critic of the bank.
Representative Stephen Fincher, who circulated the petition, will start the voting process with a floor motion on Monday, his spokeswoman said.
There could be several procedural votes before a vote on final House passage, possibly on Tuesday.
House passage could move Congress toward reopening the bank, which offers loans, loan guarantees and trade insurance to U.S. exporters and buyers of U.S. goods such as Caterpillar Inc. heavy equipment and Boeing Co. airplanes.
But the effort to renew the bank’s charter faces obstacles in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is among those who oppose it.
The bank’s charter expired on June 30, after Hensarling refused to move legislation to extend it, and it has been unable to conduct new business for more than three months. Several companies have announced the loss of export contracts due to the resulting lack of financing.
Some conservative Republicans and political groups have targeted the bank as an example of “corporate welfare” for large, wealthy companies although supporters point out it also supports small businesses.
The move to force a House vote reviving the Export-Import Bank’s charter is unusual. “This is what happens when one chairman refuses to acknowledge the desires of two-thirds of the House and Senate,” Republican Representative Mike Simpson said.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Krista Hughes; Editing by Tom Brown)
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