The U.S. House of Representatives renewed debate over the existence of the Export-Import Bank Monday, using a rare parliamentary maneuver that has not succeeded in more than a decade. The debate comes four months after conservatives in Congress shut the bank down.
House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) had criticized the bank for redistributing risk from corporations to taxpayers, and allowed the bank's charter to expire in July after a series of House floor voting maneuvers.
Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn) brought the bank's existence back up for debate by employing an unusual maneuver called a discharge petition, a way of bringing a bill to a House floor vote without the consideration of the appropriate committee, and often without the cooperation of leadership.
Forty-two Republicans joined 176 Democrats to support the petition that matured Monday. The move was last successfully used in 2002 for campaign finance legislation.
"We should be happy when Democrats want to join Republicans in legislation that moves the country forward," said Fincher.
In a letter to House colleagues last week, Rep. Hensarling criticized the discharge petition, saying "This isn't about us....it's about whether we support regular order or not."
The Export-Import Bank is a government corporation that finances foreign purchases for customers. Supporters argue that the bank creates American jobs and plays a crucial role in countering foreign investment. Major American companies GE and Boeing have directly blamed the absence of the Export-Import bank for lost foreign contracts and the decision to move jobs overseas.
On the House floor Monday night Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) said his constituents only care if they are able to go to work tomorrow.
"The opponents of re-authorization live in a world where the politics of purity trump the realism of today," said Kinzinger.
If the bill is successful, the Export-Import Bank will continue for the next four years.