Supporters of the beleaguered U.S. Export-Import Bank used an unusual parliamentary maneuver Friday to force a vote to revive the institution. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said it took unusual cooperation from both political parties to overcome a "wall of obstruction."
The Ex-Im Bank helps U.S. companies obtain financing and sells them a type of business insurance to help them sell goods in foreign markets.
A group of conservative Republicans campaigned to get rid of the bank, which they said was "crony capitalism" that mostly benefited huge, multinational corporations that do not need help from taxpayers.
Supporters said Ex-Im's clients pay for the help they get from the bank, which returns profits to the government. They also said a majority of the clients are small businesses that could not export without help. Most major trading nations operate similar institutions.
The head of the House Financial Services Committee, Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling, is a strong opponent of the bank, and he kept a measure to reauthorize it bottled up in his committee, preventing the full House from voting on the matter.
Supporters employed an unusual parliamentary maneuver — Pelosi, a California Democrat, called its use "historic" — to move the bill out of committee and on to the floor for an October 26 vote.
Since it took a majority of House members to approve what's known as a discharge petition, it seems likely that the bank will be approved in the House. But published reports have said the Ex-Im Bank revival faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, opposes it.