The bank has been shut since July 1, when its charter expired after longtime critics that considered it corporate welfare successfully blocked a bill to reauthorize it.
But earlier this month 42 Republicans joined 176 Democrats to sign a discharge petition that would force a vote on the Ex-Im reauthorization bill.
The rarely used legislative maneuver now has more than half of all House members supporting it. Stephen Fincher (R-Tennessee), who circulated the petition, will start the voting process with a floor motion, his spokeswoman told Reuters.
Created during the Depression, Ex-Im supported $230 billion in U.S. exports across 7,230 American exporters between 2007 and 2014. Supporters have stressed that providing financial assistance to larger exporters, such as Boeing, Caterpillar and General Electric, sustains many small U.S. businesses that make up the supply chains of bigger firms.
Currently, Ex-Im can only service existing loans. It cannot offer new assistance.
Supporters say if the bank remains closed and companies can no longer access export financing it could put many American jobs at risk.
For instance, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton—whose family foundation has received support from Ex-Im recipients—has said she is “a very strong supporter of the Ex-Im Bank” and has knocked its detractors as driven by “ideology” rather than results.
However, according to research by Veronique de Rugy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and Diane Katz of the Heritage Foundation, the bank “principally benefits very large exporters” and “the primary beneficiaries on the buyer side of the transactions are also very large firms.”
Among the top 10 foreign companies that use the bank to buy U.S. goods, five are involved in oil or natural gas and the others are airlines, the report said.
The bank, meanwhile, has said that nearly 90 percent of its loan recipients last year were small businesses.