2016 GOP campaign issue heats up on the Hill

Washington CNN  — 

Republican lawmakers are gearing up for a potential fight over renewing authorization of the Export-Import Bank, the 80-year-old credit agency that gives out loans to companies to promote U.S. exports. The forthcoming tussle highlights a divide in the GOP and an issue rearing its head on the 2016 presidential campaign tour.

The No. 2 House Republican reiterated on Tuesday his opposition to renewing the bank, after initially revealing last summer he opposed renewing the bank.

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“I believe that there are certain roles for government and there are certain roles for the private sector,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The bank’s authority to back loans is scheduled to expire at the end of June.

The issue has caused a split within Republican ranks, with many pro-business members and outside groups lobbying for Congress to renew the bank, and other tea party conservatives arguing the government doesn’t need to subsidize loans for private sector companies.

Many Republican presidential candidates – including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scot Walker and Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio – have said they favor the phasing out of the bank, which is opposed by the powerful Koch Brothers and their sprawling fundraising and political network.

McCarthy said he would allow “regular order” to determine whether a bill came up, but since House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling also opposes an extension of Export-Import Bank, that makes it unlikely the committee will consider any legislation.

There is some discussion of instituting new reforms for the bank, but it’s unclear whether House Speaker John Boehner would allow legislation related to the bank to move.