With the House looking more likely to include some reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank in the text of a continuing resolution this week, the fight could now turn on the length of the extension.
Convention wisdom holds that Republicans will tuck a short-term extension of the institution that underwrites the sales of U.S. goods overseas, which is set to expire at the end of the month, into the stopgap government spending bill needed to avert a shutdown.
With many Republicans on and off Capitol Hill arguing for the bank's termination, extending its charter for the next few months — either into December or through mid-way next year — will buy the party more time to agree on a long-term solution, plus postpone a politically divisive squabble just weeks before the midterm elections. But Democrats want a long-term reauthorization of five years "minimum," Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., reiterated at his regular briefing with reporters on Tuesday morning.
Hoyer suggested that Democrats are in a strong position to make that sort of demand: Nearly all Democrats would vote for a five-year extension, he said, along with at least the 41 Republicans who signed a letter earlier this year asking their leadership to "move forward with a multi-year reauthorization."
"We believe [we have] approximately 230 votes, minimum," to pass an Ex-Im Bank reauthorization of at least five years, Hoyer said. "With 41 Republicans having signed the letter for long-term reauthorization, [and] let's say we get 195 [Democrats], for the sake of argument, that's clearly enough ... to pass the bill."
Hoyer wouldn't say whether he would whip Democrats against any CR that didn't include a long-term extension, or if he was prepared to withhold his own vote in that scenario. He seemed to be anticipating, however, a situation where Republicans will need Democrats to pass the CR and could therefore be willing to give the minority party some of what it wants.
A senior Democratic aide said that, as of Tuesday afternoon, the plan was for Democrats to unite in opposition to a CR that didn't contain a long-term extension.
Republican leadership aides weren't impressed upon hearing Democrats' possible negotiating tactics.
"So Democrats are willing to shut down the government over the duration of an Ex-Im extension that they otherwise support? That’s absurd," one said.
Another added that a five-year reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank in the CR is "not an option."
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