WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz could have another filibuster coming.
The Texas Republican and 2016 presidential candidate indicated Wednesday that he was prepared to filibuster one of Congress’ largest pieces of legislation if his colleagues attached a reauthorization for the Export-Import Bank to it.
“I am willing to use any and all procedural tools to stop this corporate welfare, this corruption from being propagated,” Cruz said at a news conference in front of the U.S. Capitol.
The Ex-Im Bank, a federal government agency, uses loan guarantees, insurance and other support to help American companies do business abroad. The agency is small in comparison with the rest of the federal government. But it is a lightning rod in conservative politics, serving as the current battleground between limited government groups and business interests, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Ex-Im advocates say the bank aides small businesses and helps the U.S. compete internationally because other countries have similar, if not larger, equivalents of the agency.
The Ex-Im’s charter expired on June 30 without congressional reauthorization. But speculation circulated within congressional circles that its reauthorization would be attached to the upcoming highway bill, a massive piece of legislation that would fund federal transportation infrastructure programs for the next six months. The logic is that the Ex-Im would be a small part of a massive bill that would be difficult to vote against.
"The Export-Import Bank is a classic example of cronyism," Cruz said Wednesday. "It is a classic example of corporate welfare."
The expiration of the Export-Import Bank’s charter did not mean the immediate demise of the agency. It is expected to take years to fully unwind the bank if no reauthorization comes.
It remains to be seen whether Cruz’s Senate colleagues would have the votes to shut down a would-be filibuster over the highway bill.
But it is sure to give Cruz attention as he heads into the Republican Party’s first presidential debate in early August. His 21-hour filibuster targeting the federal Affordable Care Act propelled him into the national spotlight.
Cruz was also asked on Wednesday about reports he is to meet with fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, reports that Trump had confirmed. Cruz declined to answer the questions.