Cruz, McConnell, and the Ex-Im Bank—The Sequel

A great many readers were not happy with my analysis here the other day of the moving parts of Mitch McConnell allowing a vote on an amendment to the transportation bill that would revive the Export-Import Bank, after having apparently promised to Cruz and/or the GOP Senate caucus that he wouldn’t allow the Ex-Im Bank to come back to life. In a sentence, I sought to point out that McConnell was playing an inside game that would likely not result in the revival of the Ex-Im Bank, and that Cruz was saying “nuts” to business as usual, and that both have reasonable grounds for their actions (Cruz probably a bit more so, if you read the piece carefully). Moreover, the linchpin of the argument was that McConnell likely knew that the House would kill the Ex-Im Bank, meaning that the vote was mostly symbolic and helpful to a few endangered Republicans.

Washington Examiner columnist Timothy Carney reports this afternoon:

Sure enough, the minority of the GOP that supports Ex-Im got an amendment to the Senate highway bill that would restart Ex-Im. But the House on Wednesday adjourned for the summer without passing the Senate bill, forcing the Senate to pass the House’s short-term highway bill with no Ex-Im provision.

As National Journal told it, this was McConnell’s plan all along:

“Going along with the wishes of Ex-Im proponents in the Senate allowed McConnell to get his handcrafted highway bill through the Senate without the fear of actually reopening the bank, since both chambers now plan to pass a three-month highway bill extension.”

When the House gaveled into recess at 8:28 p.m. Wednesday, it guaranteed that Ex-Im would stay dead for at least another month. . .

The fight is not over, and the massive corporatist forces behind the bank are certain to rally to get the House to pass it.  But Carney reports grounds for optimism:

Letting August pass with no Export-Import Bank will just weaken the case for Ex-Im. The giant exporters that use the lion’s share of Ex-Im financing will continue to export — Boeing has made it clear that it has many other sources of financing. The hundreds of private firms in the robust trade finance industry will swoop up Ex-Im’s former customers — this is already happening: The Omaha World Herald, in a story about the ravages of Ex-Im’s expiration, noted that its featured small exporter is “able to go to the private market for insurance; it has done so since July 1.”

In this context, will Republican leaders who oppose Ex-Im really make a priority of restarting a defunct government agency? And it’s not just the party leaders and committee chairman who oppose Ex-Im: it’s a majority of Republicans in Congress.

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