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House votes decisively to revive US Export-Import Bank
[WASHINGTON] In a strong show of support, a majority of Republicans voted with Democrats on Tuesday to reauthorise the Export-Import Bank, which provides favourable financing to US firms seeking to sell products abroad.
If the Senate also approves the measure and President Barack Obama signs it, as expected, it would mark a resounding back-from-the-dead victory for the organisation - and a blow to the Republicans who have vilified the bank and let it lapse months ago.
The 81-year-old Ex-Im Bank provides favourable financing to US firms seeking to sell their products abroad and protects them against foreign buyer defaults.
Large American firms and their subsidiaries and suppliers have used the bank for decades.
But many Republicans pushing for a smaller government refused to authorise it and the bank's charter expired on June 30. Ex-Im supporters said the closure cost thousands of American manufacturing jobs.
On Tuesday, the House sent a resounding message to get the bank back up and running, voting 313 to 118 in favour of the legislation.
In what some considered a surprise, 127 Republicans voted yes, while 117 voted no. A lone Democrat opposed the bill.
Number two House Republican Kevin McCarthy is strongly opposed to the bank, breaking with House Speaker John Boehner, who favours its reauthorisation.
"Do we let government pick and choose who it gives special taxpayer loans to or not?" Mr McCarthy asked on the House floor.
He also argued that the bank has been linked to several fraud investigations.
Republican Justin Amash voted no as well, slamming Ex-Im as a "corrupt wealth transfer to big business." But Congressman Rick Nolan insisted Ex-Im is an American job generator that helps pay down the debt.
The bank "doesn't cost the taxpayers a single penny, it creates tens of thousands of jobs all across the country, and it yields a US$7 billion profit for deficit reduction," Mr Nolan said.
"Life should be so good if we had a few more agencies like that."
Last month, General Electric said it was moving about 500 jobs outside the United States, most of them to France, blaming the congressional shuttering of Ex-Im for the shift.
The Senate passed a bank reauthorisation in July by a vote of 64 to 29, but it was in the form of an amendment to a bill that stalled in the chamber.