Monday night in a rare procedural move, with the support of three Alabama members the U.S. House of Representatives made a play to sidestep Republican leadership in hopes of reviving the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), whose charter expired in June.
The procedure, known as a “discharge petition,” was last executed 13 years ago and only five times in the past eight decades. It allows lawmakers to bypass committees and House leadership to bring up legislation signed by a majority of the House for a vote on the floor.
In order to for the petition to be successful 218 Members, a simple majority, must sign-on. Monday night, 246 members voted in favor of the discharge of H.R. 597: the Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act — 62 Republicans and 184 Democrats — nearly 30 more than the necessary 218.
A final vote to extend the bank’s charter through 2019 will likely come to the House floor Tuesday. The bill itself reauthorizes Ex-Im Bank for four more years; sets new, lower, lending caps; aims to increase accountability and transparency at the bank; and directs the president to initiate negotiations to reduce and eventually eliminate government export subsidies worldwide.
Beyond the House, the future of the bill lies in the hands of the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he doesn’t plan to bring the bill to the floor for the vote. That could spell trouble for companies across the country, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
NAM contendss the expiration of the bank’s charter left several thousand small and medium-size exporters without adequate access to capital, and without its renewal more than 500 U.S. companies will lose credit insurance from September through December.
That could translate to lost jobs. According to the Business Roundtable, in fiscal 2014, the Ex-Im Bank provided financing for exports valued at $27.5 billion that supported about 164,000 US jobs.
The Business Council of Alabama says in Alabama Ex-Im Bank has supported 58 companies, more than 3,900 jobs, and $622 million in exports over the last seven years.