Ex-Im Bank’s Future uncertain – the bank held hostage in the Senate

Senate Republicans Block Cloture On Ex-Im Reauthorization; Future Uncertain

Posted: March 20, 2012  as reported by World Trade Online

Under the direction of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Republicans today (March 20) stonewalled a Democratic effort to secure a vote on legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for four more years.

The bill, an amendment sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to H.R. 3606, garnered 55 votes in support, five short of the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture, which would have limited the debate as a major step toward passage. The defeat resulted from a larger fight over whether Republicans could offer amendments to the Ex-Im provision offered by Cantwell or to a another Democratic sponsored amendment that would have altered the underlying H.R. 3606.

H.R. 3606 is a House-passed bill that would make it easier for start-up companies to access capital markets.

Prior to the vote, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) warned that if the Senate did not attach the Ex-Im bill to H.R. 3606, it would “drop to the bottom of the [Senate] calendar.” This, he said, is because the Senate is faced with high-priority legislation related to cyber security, violence against women and funding for the U.S. Postal Service.

McConnell said on the floor before the cloture vote on the Ex-Im amendment that “substantial support” exists among Republicans to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, but urged his colleagues to vote against the amendment, citing an urgent need to send H.R. 3606 to the president’s desk for signature.

H.R. 3606, touted by the GOP as a jobs measure, passed the House on March 8 by a vote of 390 to 23. Had cloture been invoked on the Ex-Im amendment, it likely would have been attached to H.R. 3606. That bill would then have been sent back to the House for further deliberation.

The bank’s current charter expires on May 21, and McConnell said he would be willing to consider the Ex-Im legislation on its own, with “very few amendments.” Reid bristled at this, citing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) outspoken opposition to the Cantwell amendment and to the Ex-Im bank in general.

“[Members of the House leadership] are not about to take the Ex-Im Bank unless it’s part of the overall package,” Reid said, referring to the House-passed jobs proposal.

Reid accused McConnell of opposing the measure over the “procedural matter” of not being able to offer amendments to the Ex-Im bill, a view echoed by private -sector sources ahead of the vote.

Only three Republicans, Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV), Scott Brown (R-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), voted in favor of the Cantwell amendment. The amendment failed to attract support even from two of the Republicans who co-sponsored it, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Shelby (R-AL). Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) also co-sponsored the amendment, but he was not present at today’s Senate session. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who caucuses with the Democrats, voted against cloture.

The cloture vote on Cantwell’s amendment was preceded by a vote to invoke cloture on a substitute amendment to H.R. 3606, which that would add further investor protections to that bill. It also failed by a 55 to 45 vote. The Senate was scheduled to hold a cloture vote on H.R. 3606 following votes on the two amendments, but Reid announced soon after the vote on Cantwell’s amendment that there would be no more votes during the session. The Senate is scheduled to resume consideration of H.R. 3606 during the March 21 session.

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About Alexander Gordin
An international merchant banking professional with over twenty years of business operating and advisory experience in the areas of export finance, international project finance, risk mitigation and cross-border business development. Clients include foreign governments, municipalities and state enterprises as well as Fortune 500 and small/medium enterprises. Strong entrepreneurial instincts, combined with leadership and strategic skills. Transactional and negotiations experience in over thirty five countries. Author of the highly acclaimed "Fluent in Foreign Business" book and creator of the "Fluent in OPIC", "Fluent in EXIM","Fluent In Foreign Franchising", "Fluent in FCPA",and "Fluent in USTDA" seminar/webinar series. Currently developing "Fluent In ......" seminars and publications. Co-author of the Fi3 Country Business Appeal Indices. Extensive international business development and project finance transaction experience in healthcare, aerospace, ICT, conventional and alternative energy infrastructure, distribution and hospitality industries. Experience managing international public and private corporations. Co-Founded three companies abroad. Strong Emerging and Frontier Market expertise. Published and featured in numerous publications including: The Wall Street Journal, Knowledge@Wharton, NBC.com, The Chicago Tribune, Industry Week, Industry Today, Business Finance, Wharton Magazine Blog, NY Enterprise Report, Success magazine, Kyiv Post and on a number of radio and television programs including: Voice of America, CNBC, CNNfn, and Bloomberg. Frequent speaker on strategy, cross-border finance and international business development. Executive MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. B.S. in Management of Information Systems from the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. Specialties Strategic Management Advisory, Export Finance, International Project Finance & Risk Management, Cross-border Negotiations, Structured Finance transactions, Senior Government and Corporate officials liason

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