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Collins showed real leadership in fight to revive the vital Export-Import Bank

With all the drama and internal warfare underway among House Republicans, it’s tempting to conclude that the chamber majority lacks any effective leaders. Not so.

On Tuesday, Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, stepped up and helped to preserve jobs and economic opportunity here and across the country. It was a fine moment for the businessman turned politician.

To revive the Export-Import Bank – which helps American businesses sell their products overseas and which, incredibly, the Republican House earlier voted to kill – Collins and other like-minded Republicans not only had to cross the tea party zealots who fundamentally despise American government, but the House leadership, as well.

Working with House Democrats, Collins and about 40 other Republicans were able to force a vote on the bank, which then passed in a lopsided vote of 313-118. It’s revealing that once the vote was called, Republicans supported it by a 127-117 majority. That tells a tale on how the tea party Republicans have cowed their party brethren.

Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, also supported the effort. Reed has been lost in the political weeds for years, sometimes claiming to shun labels but also aligning himself with the tea party’s worst impulses, including shutting down the government. Perhaps this marks a turning point for him.

It doesn’t for Collins, who has already shown he means it when he says he went to Washington to govern, not “to lurch from crisis to crisis.” He is nothing if not a true conservative, but unlike some others who call themselves Republican, he has common sense and understands the nature of responsibility.

Saving the Export-Import Bank is the responsible choice. It was a “Hail Mary” effort by the bipartisan coalition in the House, but critical to thousands of working Americans. Now it’s up to the Senate to follow suit.

This 81-year-old institution would normally be relegated to the footnotes of some dense academic tome. Until recently, the average person probably hadn’t even heard of the institution that offers financing and insurance for American companies exporting products.

Far from unusual, most industrialized nations have similar agencies, and there’s a very strong argument to make that, without something similar here, American companies would be at a great disadvantage. And aren’t Republicans supposed to support businesses?

Tea party Republicans oppose the bank as an example of “corporate welfare” for giant corporations that don’t need it. That opposition allowed the bank’s charter to expire in June. Since then companies have come forward and said they are losing business without the bank.

As Collins observed – and with personal experience as a businessman – this fight was about allowing American companies the opportunity to compete on a more even playing field. Remember, many industrialized nations already employ similar methods. Moreover, the Export-Import Bank makes money and actually returns funds to the Treasury.

This vote was the right approach. We hope Collins will remain alert because there are bound to be more efforts by the tea party to hack away at the government wherever it can, even where – as in the Export-Import Bank – it makes no economic sense.