Supporters of the defunct U.S. Export-Import Bank have received new hope that the agency will return to the landing of the living soon.
On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) signaled that Democrats would back a move by Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) to use a parliamentary maneuver to force a measure to reauthorize the credit agency out of committee and onto the chamber floor for a vote.
“If Republicans have enough people on their discharge petition, then we will join in and then go from there,” Pelosi said during a press conference.
The charter for the New Deal-era agency expired this summer. Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has been all too happy to stay in the background on the issue and let conservatives, who argue the bank is responsible for “crony capitalism” that favors large corporations over small businesses, take the lead.
Fincher’s discharge petition would require 218 signatures to pry the reauthorization bill out of the House Financial Services Committee, where chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), a bank opponent, has kept it bottled up for months.
Fincher reportedly began circulating the petition this week and several GOP members, concerned that the bank’s continued closure will lead to job losses back home, have already publicly stated they will sign it.
The push for the petition coming at the same time House Republicans are readying to overhaul their leadership team isn’t a coincidence. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the frontrunner to replace Boehner, supported the bank before he reversed his stance last year.
If McCarthy does in fact get the speaker gavel, the agency would likely continue to wither on the vine, with the contracts it issued before it shuttered expiring gradually over time.
Discharge petitions have rarely worked in the past, mostly because they have centered on divisive, partisan issue like immigration that have prevented them from reaching the 218 mark.
But anxiety about job losses is a bipartisan issue and Pelosi senses that the stars are aligned for Fincher’s petition to meet the 218-signature threshold and hold a successful vote on the bill, possibly before Boehner leaves Congress on October 30.
“It'll be really important for us to see how many signatures the Republicans have on the discharge petition, because we'll have an overwhelming vote if they bring the bill to the floor,” she told reporters, adding she was “excited” about the petition’s chances.