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Two local congressmen are working together to reauthorize the federal Export-Import Bank. The bank lends billions of dollars to American companies trying to sell products overseas. Its authority expires at the end of this month unless Congress acts. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) are often at odds politically, but they've come together to address this issue. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, provides an analysis of the situation. Following are highlights of the conversation:
Hawkings on what the reauthorization would do: "It would enlarge the limit for the Export-Import bank for the next three years. It would essentially allow them to lend even more money. This is something the business community has lobbied for intensely. It allows other countries to get financing to buy big-ticket American-made items. And the manufacturing industries have been pushing hard for this. This is not something that is normally a partisan issue. The fact that we're even talking about this, the fact that this has become one of the stories of the week is a reflection of how partisan everything has become."
On what prompted Hoyer and Cantor to come together: "Normally, Cantor and Hoyer would get together on this, and we would not know, and it would sort of just sail through. This bank is reauthorized every couple of years, and I think of my several decades in Washington, this is the first time we've ever even written about it. So, I sort of think this is a one-of-a-kind."
On what's going to happen next: "We'll know a little more this afternoon. There's a test vote in the Senate--the so-called cloture vote, which we have a lot of in the Senate these days. Right now some Republicans want an amendment on the bill, others Republicans want to hold this bill hostage, and make it a vehicle for debating."