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On the Export-Import Bank, the Tea Party is winning

It looks like the Export-Import Bank is really going to close its doors, at least for a while.

The 80-year-old institution got a reprieve in the fall, when Republicans quietly agreed to extend its charter to June 30. But June 30 is fast approaching, and there's virtually no chance that Congress will vote to save the bank before then. Politico sums up the state of play:

House leaders, who are divided on the issue, are waiting to see if the Senate can pass a reauthorization bill first.

But the lack of available floor time in the Senate — combined with scant pieces of must-pass legislation awaiting action this month — means the political football will almost certainly be punted until July after the bank’s charter expires, according to top Senate Republicans and Democrats following the matter. That means bank supporters are sure to try to revive the bank later this summer, an effort that will cause a major rift within the GOP.

One reason the Senate isn't likely to scramble to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank? Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has come out against it. It's a bit hard to get scarce Senate floor time when the guy who controls the floor doesn't want you to exist.

This is a huge win for the Tea Party and reform conservative wings of the GOP — they triumphed, at least temporarily, over a massive lobbying campaign from the business wing of the Republican Party.

Conventional wisdom remains that if the bank comes up for a vote, it will likely win. But there's no real chance of the bank getting that vote on its own. The question in July is whether reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank can be quietly attached as a rider to some bigger, must-pass bill, like transportation-funding legislation.

The big picture here is that given the difficulty Obama's trade deal has had and given the potential closure of the Ex-Im Bank, it doesn't look like the major business lobbies have nearly as much sway on Capitol Hill as they used to.

Everything you need to know about the Export-Import Bank

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