UPDATE 1-U.S. Senate clears hurdle on Hochberg nomination for Ex-Im Bank
WASHINGTON, July 17 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate voted on Wednesday to move toward approving Fred Hochberg for a second term as president of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which would have to stop conducting business next week unless Hochberg is confirmed.
The Senate voted 82-18 to limit debate on the nomination and hold a confirmation vote later in the day.
Hochberg has been president and chairman of the bank's board of directors since 2009. His term and those of two other board members expired in January but they have been serving on six-month extensions that end at midnight on Saturday.
As of Saturday, without Senate confirmation of Hochberg, the bank's five-member board would no longer have a quorum to approve transactions. That would be a blow for Boeing and other U.S. companies that rely on Ex-Im Bank financing to make sales in export markets where commercial lending is scarce.
President Barack Obama has not yet nominated anyone to fill the soon-to-be vacant board spots occupied by Vice Chair Wanda Felton and Director Larry Walther.
The conservative Club for Growth, which considers Ex-Im Bank loans as a form of "corporate welfare," had urged Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to block action on the nomination, in the hope of at least temporarily shutting down the bank's board.
Hochberg's nomination also became entangled in a broader Senate battle over several Obama nominations, with the majority Democrats accusing Republican of abusing a procedural roadblock known as a filibuster to indefinitely delay votes.
A deal to resolve that dispute was reached on Tuesday, allowing a vote on Hochberg's nomination to proceed.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Vicki Allen and Jackie Frank)