Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Wednesday that senators will likely try to attach a provision to revive the Export-Import Bank to a transportation funding measure that is headed to the Senate floor as early as next week.
"I'm not a supporter of that, but I think there will be an effort made under regular order to offer an amendment of some kind," Cornyn said on the bank.
The federally backed bank expired at the end of June, thanks mostly to intense opposition from a large faction of conservative Republicans, including Cornyn, who say the bank is a waste of tax money and a form of corporate welfare.
But some Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and most Democrats, support the bank's return, arguing that it helps small businesses and supports U.S. jobs.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell, R-Ky., struck a deal with Democrats on recently passed trade legislation to allow a vote on extending the bank and he later decided to attach it to the transportation bill. McConnell does not support the extension of the bank.
The transportation funding bill is a "must pass" measure that guarantees money for critical highway and infrastructure projects. It needs to clear Congress by the end of the month to prevent summer construction projects from grinding to a halt.
If the Senate passes the highway bill with the Export-Import Bank provision attached, the House will take it up, Republican leaders said. But in the House, it's possible that Republicans will split it off from the transportation measure through a parliamentary maneuver, allowing lawmakers to vote separately on each measure.
House conservative opponents of the bank said on Wednesday they'll do everything in their power to split the two issues, even if it means blocking the resolution to advance the measure and begin debate.
"We haven't made a decision," Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said in a conference call with reporters. "Everything is on the table."
Rep. John Fleming, R-La., another member of the Freedom Caucus, said the group believes a measure to revive the bank "should not be brought up for a vote."