The Corner

Economy & Business

Re: There Is No ‘Deal’ to Reauthorize Ex-Im

In response to Not a Sign of Confidence, Methinks

Iain’s claim that “the Senate returned to regular order under Senator McConnell’s leadership” is a bit odd in the context of discussing fast-track trade authority. The New York Times had this to say on May 21:

Three senators — Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington; Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota; and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina – refused to vote to consider the Pacific trade legislation until they got a commitment from Mr. McConnell for a vote to extend Ex-Im’s life.

In an extended huddle, supporters of the bank negotiated with Republican leaders. Ms. Cantwell even took a call from President Obama during the protracted vote.

Finally, when Mr. McConnell relented, the group turned en masse to vote to end the filibuster, providing the winning margin.

There is nothing regular about that, and Graham helpfully confirmed the deal-making via Twitter: “Most important aspect of agreement is we will also have the opportunity to vote on #ExIm reauth attached to the Highway Trust Fund reauth.”

Even if you dismiss that as simply allowing senators to “exert their rights under the rules of the Senate and offer an amendment on an amendable vehicle” as Iain does, it is undeniable that senators have been denied that right multiple times this year.

Most notable was McConnell’s successful effort to block senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio from receiving a vote on a critical amendment on Israel during the debate over Iran. As Cruz mentioned in his op-ed, he and Senator Jeff Sessions were also denied a vote on amendments to fast-track authority in May. Those were not decisions made by chance. As Senate majority whip John Cornyn explained earlier this year, “The only person who makes the decision is the leader.”

We have not returned to Reid-like management, but it is quite clear how the Senate is being run this year. McConnell has asserted his prerogative on numerous occasions. He is also opposed to the Export-Import Bank. As such, it is perfectly reasonable for him to treat a rogue amendment to resurrect the Ex-Im Bank (which will be expired and winding down its operations as required by law) the same way he treated the Rubio, Cotton, Cruz and Sessions amendments. 

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