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Election Results Increase Uncertainty About Ex-Im’s Fate

Republican victories in Tuesday’s elections could lead to increased pressure on congressional leaders to kill the Export-Import Bank.

Congress passed a short-term extension of Ex-Im in September, reflecting a compromise between supporters, who had sought a multi-year extension, and opponents, who wanted to allow the bank’s charter to expire. However, that extension was attached to a continuing resolution that not only staved off a government shutdown, but also authorized funding to combat ISIS, thereby complicating the vote.

Many blamed House Speaker John Boehner for including Ex-Im in the continuing resolution after previously promising to let re-authorization go through the normal legislative process, but House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, one of the bank’s most vocal opponents, has said he believes his side will prevail when the issue comes up again in June. (RELATED: Hensarling ‘Looks Forward’ to Ex-Im Expiring in June)

Boehner said he expects the election results to give him “a little stronger hand when it comes to moving legislation,” but the Cincinnati Enquirer noted that the results will also “embolden conservatives and expand the ranks of rock-ribbed conservatives in the House, bringing in new firebrands who will likely push the Republican Party rightward.”

The Wall Street Journal predicts that Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is poised to become Senate Majority Leader once the new Congress is sworn in, will face a similar predicament, having to “weigh the complaints of those same conservatives about corporate cronyism against calls by other Republicans for business-friendly legislation such as renewing the Export-Import Bank.” (RELATED: Republicans Clash Over Export-Import Bank)

Prognosticators are divided as to whether the next Congress will be more or less likely than the current one to re-authorize Ex-Im. Politico, for instance, claims the bank “is unlikely to breathe its last when its short-term extension runs out in June,” while the Wall Street Journal counters that, “GOP gains won’t necessarily help with the [case for] renewal of the Export-Import Bank.”

Businesses are not taking any chances, though. According to Foreign Policy, “more companies than usual rushed to get their applications in” for Ex-Im financing in September. “The export credit agency received 1,737 applications in September 2014,” a significant increase from the 1,379 received in August, and the most of any month this year.

“The uptick in applications could indicate concern among exporters about the bank’s future,” the article claimed, especially considering that a number of firms sought to renew policies early. (RELATED: Boeing Official Compares Ex-Im Closing to ‘Armageddon’)

Hensarling responded to the news with a statement saying, “Ex-Im is taxpayer-subsidized credit…so it’s no surprise there are those who want to take advantage of it.”

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