The Hill: Ex-Im supporters worry after defeat

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Supporters of the Export-Import Bank are worried about its future after losing a battle with conservatives this month to renew its charter.

[Reposted from The Hill  |  Kevin Cirilli  |  July 30, 2015]

The bank’s proponents say Ex-Im has the money to get by over the next two months, and they note that appropriators have included funding for day-to-day operations in next year’s spending bills.

They are eyeing an expected continuing resolution to keep the government operating past September as a potential vehicle for Ex-Im.

At the same time, the bank’s supporters are concerned about Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

He’s seen as a supporter of the bank, but he didn’t come to its rescue in July. And he’s under near constant attack from rank-and-file conservatives who want to keep Ex-Im shuttered. 

“Why would he bring it up in September?” one Ex-Im supporter said Wednesday while discussing strategy.

“That’s what people in the business community need to get our minds around,” the source responded. “I don’t think he’ll budge. I think he showed his hand.”

A spokesman for Boehner said the Speaker had promised conservatives they’d have an opportunity to offer an amendment stripping language renewing Ex-Im’s charter from a Senate bill that reopens the bank.

“Beyond that he’s made no promises or commitments,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said.

Opponents of the bank said they scored a major victory by preventing its renewal this month.

“Conservatives delivered a historic policy victory,” Heritage Action for America spokesman Dan Holler said.

Ex-Im’s charter expired at the end of June, but supporters believed the Senate would add language renewing it to a must-pass highway spending bill. They also believed they had the votes to keep that language intact in the House.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) are lobbying to revive the bank, arguing that its international financing helps to sustain thousands of U.S. jobs.

“It’s time to allow a bipartisan majority of Congress to reauthorize a tool that we need to enhance America’s free enterprise system against aggressive foreign competitors and level the playing field for manufacturers to win business for more U.S. jobs,” NAM president and CEO Jay Timmons said in a statement.

Behind the scenes, bank supporters aren’t speaking with confidence.

“It’s hard to guess what Congress will do,” conceded one supporter of the bank. “We weren’t expecting the underlying transportation funding bill to become so contentious.”

Ex-Im provides backing for overseas investments that are intended to increase U.S. trade. Conservatives argue that process involves picking winners and losers and that companies should have to go to the private market for the support.

Bank supporters argue many foreign countries have similar state enterprises and that the U.S. is unilaterally disarming by preventing the bank from authorizing new loans.

They say that the longer Ex-Im is closed, the more damage is done.

Opponents, however, point to doomsday warnings surrounding automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester. They argue those warnings didn’t really come true and that neither will the warnings about Ex-Im.

 

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