This almost never happens, so it's worth taking a little time to analyze it. The Club for Growth, which had been one of the hardest-charging opponents of Export-Import Bank renewal, withdrew its "key vote" against the short-term continuing resolution. It was the club that clipped video of then-candidate Barack Obama, in 2008, attacking the bank; it was the club that led a Washington Post piece, by Zach Goldfarb, about how this became a flashpoint issue. Previously, the club and Heritage Action had warned that a "no" vote would be counted on a member's permanent record. Now, Heritage is alone on the limb.
The club's rationale is pretty simple. Yes, the current CR continues the charter of the Ex-Im Bank. Yes, it expires during the lame-duck session in December, not in the new year when everyone agrees that more Republicans will be in Congress. (Ex-Im would continue for another year, smack in the middle of the Leader Mitch McConnell era. Probably.) But "the addition of the ISIS language does not make this a revealing vote about economic policy," said club VP for government policy Andrew Roth. "Instead, it will be largely driven by foreign policy, something the Club for Growth does not take an official position on."
That's it? That's it. When I harangued club spox Barney Keller, and asked whether the club just saw that this version of the CR had too much Democratic support to fail, he returned to Roth's arguments. "It's not more complicated than the vote is about foreign policy and we don't do foreign policy," he said. "The scorecard measures commitment to economic freedom, that's it."
When I asked whether the club perhaps preferred an Ex-Im vote at a later date: "Just because we’re not scoring the vote doesn’t mean we’re not opposed to the CR. It just means we’re not scoring it."
Well, sure, and the club has withdrawn scores before. In the past it's usually been done after a bill was amended to match the policy demands of the club, as in 2011, when a revised version of the House GOP debt limit increase was packed with more spending caps. The decision to walk away from the table because the CR will now be amended to include funds for Syrian rebel training is, perhaps, the first congressional foreign policy win of the Obama administration all year. This bill is like a gigantic soldier with a tiny Trojan Horse inside of it.
Of course, had conservatives rebelled and killed the bill, Democrats were confident that their candidates would be helped.