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Reid Plans Export-Import Bank Vote (Video)
Posted at 4:54 p.m. on June 24, 2014
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he plans to hold a vote on the Export-Import Bank before its authorization expires at the end of the fiscal year.
“I think it’s really important that we have legislation like this that has the wide support of business groups around the country; it’s something that creates jobs,” Reid said.
But he declined to speculate when that would be and whether it would be considered separately or as part of a package, like a continuing resolution that may be needed to keep the government open beyond Sept. 30, the last day of the fiscal year.
“The Export Bank is so very, very important to the country and before we get into all these hypotheticals [on] what will be done, Republicans in the business community want this done, so I would hope they would direct their attention to the House Republicans,” Reid said.
Some Republicans, including conservatives such as Majority Leader-elect Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have called for ending the bank.
On Tuesday, House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, declined to commit to reauthorizing the bank, saying instead that he is trying find common ground between his members who want to end the bank and those who want to continue funding it.
Reid said he was surprised by comments from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that he had not decided if he would support reauthorizing the bank.
“He’s voted for it the past,” Reid said.
But McConnell, who is campaigning for re-election, was quick to point that he did not vote for the last authorization, and stressed that his support or lack thereof should not prevent the Senate from considering the issue.
“I think we ought to take it up,” McConnell said. “The last time it was up I didn’t support it, but I don’t think that’s an argument for not bringing it up.”
McConnell said that too often, Democrats don’t want to vote on issues, particularly those that politically sensitive, including his amendment to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to implement new regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants — primarily affecting coal.
Reid pulled a spending package from the floor – including Agriculture, Transportation-HUD and Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bills – in order to prevent McConnell’s amendment from getting a vote, which Reid indicated was only designed to score political points.
“We should do the appropriations bills,” Reid said. “Maybe with a little cooperation from the Republicans we could get that done.”
But McConnell argued that Reid’s stranglehold on the amendment process is what is causing the gridlock.
“Members ought to be able to offer amendments both on committee and on the floor,” McConnell said. “The particular amendment … that I’m interested in has bipartisan support. Why would they be denied the opportunity to vote? That is just where we are in the Senate these days and it needs to change.”
“It can change in the short-term by the majority deciding to operate differently, and I know there are a number of Democrats who have expressed their frustration with the way the place is being run, or the American people could decide to put the Senate under new management next year,” McConnell said. “And if that were to happen, I assure you we wouldn’t be running it this way.”
For his part, Reid argued that McConnell’s legacy as minority leader has been to obstruct and delay Senate business, including proposals that would help the middle class such as raising the minimum wage, paycheck fairness, and expanded background checks for gun purchases.
“Since he’s been the minority leader virtually everything we do around here has had a 60 vote hurdle, that’s why we call it the McConnell rule,” Reid said.
Reid said that he there is a group of Democrats, including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who are trying to work with Republicans on anything they can find with bipartisan support.
“She has done something that is long overdue and that is reach out to Republicans in a way that perhaps would be a little more grassroots than my going to the floor and [saying,] ‘why don’t we get some of this stuff done on a bipartisan basis,’” Reid said.
“I admire what she’s done, I wish her well,” Reid said. “She’s doing the right thing.”