Senate approves Export-Import Bank in 78-20 vote

May 16, 2012

By Daniel Strauss – The Hill

The Senate passed legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank on Tuesday, after voting down five amendments that would have limited the program’s scope and power.

The passage of the bill in a 78 to 20 vote sends the legislation to President Obama, who is expected to sign the reauthorization, which runs through September 2014.

It also ends an unexpectedly long fight on Capital that divided Republicans.

The Export-Import Bank is generally considered a non-controversial bill, but it came under attack this year from conservatives who argued it was a form of corporate welfare that distorted free trade.

The Club for Growth was among the groups that urged Republicans to oppose reauthorizing the bank’s charter. Ninety-three Republicans voted against the reauthorization in the House, and a number of Republican senators voted against it on Tuesday.

“We need to end the corporate welfare that distorts the market and feeds crony capitalism,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said in a floor speech. Lee sponsored one of the amendments that sought to impose restrictions on the bank.

“The corporations that largely benefit from the Ex-Im bank should have no trouble marshaling their resources to compete in today’s economy. If they are struggling, then they are most likely not deserving of tax payer help,” Lee said.

Lee’s amendment, which was rejected, would have terminated the bank a year after the authorization.

The other amendments would have limited the bank’s financing of certain products, stopped the bank from lending to projects in countries that held government debt instruments, funded the bank only if there was progress in talks to end it and kept the bank from funding energy projects that competed with similar projects in the U.S., respectively.

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