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Senate Set to Reauthorize Export-Import Bank

The Senate is set to clear legislation Tuesday to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank after Democrats allowed Republicans to offer five amendments.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried to pressure Senate Republicans to accept without any changes the Export-Import Bank bill passed by the House last week on a vote of 330 to 93.

Democrats agreed after Republicans threatened to filibuster, but leaders avoided that scenario by reaching an agreement on amendments this evening.

The bill would reauthorize the bank’s charter through Sept. 30, 2014, and incrementally increase its lending cap. By fiscal 2014, the bank would be authorized to lend up to $140 billion, an increase from the current $100 billion.

While many Republicans back the bill, conservatives see the bank as a form of corporate welfare that comes at a time when the annual deficit has been more than $1 trillion in recent years.

Conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America also oppose the measure.

Under the agreement, all five amendments and the final bill would need 60 votes to pass. Democrats are unlikely to vote for the GOP proposals, so they are unlikely to pass.

One amendment that will be considered, offered by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), would require certification that foreign export financing is in the same market and that private financing isn’t available or is prohibitively expensive. It would also require a 10 percent capital cushion at the bank.

An amendment offered by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) would prohibit bank funds for renewable energy projects or overseas fossil fuel projects that compete with similar domestic projects.

A proposal from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) makes the release of bank funds contingent on the progress of multilateral negotiations to end the bank.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has offered an amendment that would terminate the bank one year after reauthorization.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has offered a proposal that would prohibit bank loans to projects in countries that hold U.S. government debt instruments, such as China.

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