More than 40 Republicans joined Rep. Stephen Fincher in signing his discharge petition, which was brought to the floor Friday, to force the House to vote on the reauthorization of the Export-Import bank.
The rare maneuver requires 218 signatures, which Fincher can expect with Democratic support, to skirt around leadership and bring the legislation to the floor.
The bank, which provided low-interest, taxpayer-backed financing to foreign companies purchasing American goods, lost its lending authority in July when its charter expired.
A number of conservatives called for its closure, saying it provided corporate welfare and promoted corny capitalism. Proponents say the agency is necessary for the country to remain competitive in the global market.
“Our constituents expect us to fight for them and get the job done, but Congress has failed to even hold a vote to reform and reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank,” Fincher, a Republican out of Tennessee, said in a statement. “We refuse to look any more hardworking Americans in the eye and say, ‘you lost your job because Congress refused to hold a vote.’ This cannot wait any longer. If we do not get this done for the American people, the only thing our country will be exporting is jobs.”
While House Speaker John Boehner supported its reauthorization, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise opposed, making it difficult in the past for its supporters to get the legislation to come to a vote.
Discharge petitions are largely unsuccessful, the last measure to pass was McCain-Feingold in 2002.
With the recent chaos over electing new leadership in the lower chamber, some Republicans feel using the tactic will further the party’s problems.
“I respect my colleagues who believe Ex-Im is essential economic development, just as I respect those who believe Ex-Im is unfair and harmful corporate welfare,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican. “But I hope all Republicans, regardless of their stand on this one issue, will recognize that signing a discharge petition sets a very serious, very dangerous precedent for our Republican majority that goes far beyond Ex-Im.”
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