Sensing an opportunity to capitalize on a split within the GOP, Senate Democrats will vote this month to reauthorize a favorite of big business — the Export-Import Bank.
While business groups and moderate lawmakers have mounted a campaign to get the lender’s charter re-upped, Republicans are under heavy pressure from conservative groups to let the bank die when its authorization expires in September.
It’s a split that business-friendly Democrats are latching onto in the long-shot hope that this issue might be the one that finally turns groups like the Chamber of Commerce to the Democrats’ side.
“I’ve said this to [chamber President] Tom Donohue and others: In many ways mainstream Democrats are closer to you than many Republicans because the tea party has pulled them so far to the right,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “They’re doing what’s harmful to business.”
Indeed, business lobbyists in Washington and the interests they represent have increasingly voiced irritation with a Republican Conference that has ignored its counsel and its requests on everything from the debt ceiling and immigration reform to terrorism risk insurance.
Still, that frustration hasn’t changed how business doles out its cash. So far this cycle, the Chamber of Commerce independent expenditure group has spent $11 million for Republicans. For Democrats, it’s spent no money at all.
Schumer, making a case that Democrats can be the party of business, pointed to the caucus’s support not only for the Export-Import bank but also immigration reform and tax extenders.
That might be far-fetched, but there’s no doubt Republicans see the problem that their intra-party split on Ex-Im has become.
The bank reauthorization gained traction first in the House but then stalled when conservative outside groups mounted stout opposition. Meanwhile, Banking Committee members, in particular Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, were seeking to build bipartisan support for a bill behind the scenes.
He and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois wrote a letter calling for reauthorization of the bank, but there was miscommunication behind the scenes, aides confirm, with Manchin’s staff believing Kirk would cosponsor a bill.
Kirk had never signed on to support legislation. He’s talked with business groups and reassured them he supports reauthorization, but has not yet agreed to cosponsor any legislation, an aide said.
And once Kirk pulled back, Democrats eagerly jumped into the fray, seeing the potential for a political win by advancing legislation to the floor.
“It’s tough to be a Republican leading on this issue,” said a Senate GOP aide, who added that Republicans do indeed worry that Majority Leader Harry Reid is turning this to Democrats’ advantage. “Because this is such a huge issue, Reid would force us to vote on it before the midterms.”
Looks like that’s exactly the way this is going to play out.
What We're Following See More »
After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."
Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."
"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."