McConnell: Export-Import Bank supporters have the votes

Jesse Guss unloads a spool from a knitting machine at Sage Automotive Interiors factory in the South Carolina Upstate that exports fabric for car seats. Sage, which employs 900 at four plants, is one of many U.S. companies that has benefited from the Export-Import Bank.

The supporters of the federal Export-Import Bank have the Senate votes to revive it and will get a chance to do so, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday.

“Looks to me like they have the votes, and I’m going to give them the opportunity,” McConnell, who opposes the bank, said in a telephone interview from Kentucky, where he is spending Congress’ July 4 recess. He said he expects supporters to try to attach the reauthorization to a highway bill.

The 81-year-old bank will expire at midnight Tuesday. It is a federal agency, created during the Great Depression, that makes and guarantees loans to help overseas buyers purchase U.S. products, including jets made by Boeing Co., which has a large planemakig operation in North Charleston.

The issue has become a test of GOP purity. Tea party-backed lawmakers and outside conservative groups have denounced the bank as crony capitalism and vowed to get rid of it. They’ve pressured other lawmakers to go along.

Allowing the bank to go out of business, even temporarily, is a sharp blow to traditional GOP allies in the business community.

Supporters, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, argue the agency helps many smaller companies and is necessary to keep U.S. businesses competitive — especially in the face of competition from China and other countries that have generous export credit agencies boosting their homegrown industries.