A filibuster-proof Senate majority backed the Export-Import Bank Wednesday night, but prospects for extending its charter before it expires at the end of the month remain doubtful.
Sixty-five senators, including 22 Republicans, backed an amendment to extend the bank in a test vote, while 31 voted to kill it.
The amendment to the defense authorization bill was immediately withdrawn, however, as backers hope to attach it to a bill more likely to head quickly to the president's desk — such as a highway extension — or pass it as a standalone bill.
"Where I am very excited about this bill — which is really the Kirk-Heitkamp bill — getting an overwhelming show of support, the reality is that if we do not vote on the Kirk-Heitkamp bill itself and pass it out of this chamber, at the end of the month the charter will expire," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said on the floor following the vote.
Heitkamp said backers were promised a real vote to extend the bank before its charter expires as part of the deal to advance the fast-track trade bill, and said Wednesday's vote didn't suffice.
The House isn't expected to vote on an Export-Import Bank bill in the meantime.
Related: Trade Deal Tees Up Export-Import Bank Vote See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.