A public entity that was designed to bridge the gap between American companies and their foreign counterparts 80 years ago is about to expire. The Senate will vote on whether to keep it open later this month, but its existence has become another touchstone of partisan politics. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.
Inside this ordinary government building is a bank that helps American companies—both large and small—sell their products abroad.
For decades, the Export-Import Bank, as it's known, has been reauthorized by Congress without much debate.
But this year, the 80-year-old institution is fighting for its life, and Democrats are warning that if it dies, the economy will take a hit.
"If there's one thing we're desperate for in America, probably our number one problem is we don't have enough good middle class jobs, so ending the Export-Import Bank will make that situation even worse," said Sen. Charles Schumer.
The bank's charter is set to expire at the end of September.
Senate Democrats say they will vote later this month to reauthorize it.
They're facing strong opposition from Republicans, however, who say the bank is nothing more than a taxpayer-backed slush fund for corporations.
"The government is saying let's give a loan to this small business, even though it may disenfranchise another small business. They're doing it because there are politics involved," said Andrew Roth of The Club for Growth.
The debate has further exposed the ideological rift within the Republican Party.
The Tea Party wing wants to close it, while pro-wall street Republicans want to keep it open, arguing it helps U.S. companies compete overseas.
In the House, the Tea Party appears to be winning.
In an apparent attempt to boost his conservative credentials, the incoming House Majority Leader has announced he wants the bank to disappear.
"I think Ex-Im Bank is one that something that government does not have to be involved in. The private sector can do it," said House Majority Leader-elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy on FoxNews on June 22.
Democrats argue the current structure works fine, and that it hasn't hurt taxpayers.
Those claims have done little to sway Republicans, however.