Efforts to save a controversial U.S. government agency that supports U.S. exports were set back on Wednesday when supporters could not get Congress to vote on the issue.
The Ex-Im Bank's charter expires at the end of June, and Congress is only planning to be in session for one more day before that date.
The bank helps U.S. companies export goods and services by providing financing or selling insurance that protects the American company if a foreign customer cannot pay.
Without congressional action, Ex-Im or the Export-Import Bank of the United States, as it is formally known, must stop making new deals and may start laying off employees next week.
Wednesday, supporters spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives, pleading with colleagues to support the bank and the jobs they say it creates through U.S. export companies.
Representative Maxine Waters, the ranking Democrat on the committee that oversees the bank, said she is "shocked" that majority Republicans are not allowing the issue to come to a vote. Other supporters say the many small and medium size businesses that the bank helps will lose business and jobs.
Some of the most conservative Republicans call the bank "corporate welfare" and "crony capitalism" that supports large, politically-connected companies that they say don't need and shouldn't get help from the government.
Representative Jeb Hensarling says he is "leading the charge" to kill the bank, saying it is government intrusion into the free market. He says most of the money the bank disburses goes to large firms like Caterpillar or Boeing.
The Standard and Poor's rating agency says it is a "real possibility" that Ex-Im could suspend or end operations next week. In a report published Wednesday, analysts say Boeing is the largest U.S. exporter, the biggest recipient of Ex-Im help, and would face "long term" risk without Ex-Im.