Republican Slap Fight Over Ex-Im Continues
A House bill to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for five years has attracted 58 Republican co-sponsors, upsetting many conservatives and free-market advocates.
According to the Hill, Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher introduced the bill, HR 597, on Wednesday, and 57 other Republicans quickly signed on as co-sponsors, setting up a potentially contentious debate between the moderate and conservative factions of the party. (RELATED: Republicans Clash Over Export-Import Bank)
Last year, a number of prominent Republicans sought to prevent an extension of Ex-Im’s charter, breaking from a longstanding Congressional tradition of passing multi-year reauthorizations on voice votes, but they were ultimately compelled to accept the compromise of a short-term extension that keeps the bank in business through June.
One of the bank’s most vocal opponents in that fight was Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over the reauthorization bill. Fincher also serves on the committee, as do six other Republican co-sponsors.
Tony Fratto, managing director at Hamilton Place Strategies, which supports reauthorization, told the Hill that, “Getting 58 co-sponsors is strong, especially with Hensarling so opposed,” and indicates “broad support for reauthorizing Ex-Im.”
“This isn’t the right fight, and members know it,” Fratto said, pointing out that, “every one of them has constituents, small businesses, workers, who want to keep Ex-Im.” (RELATED: Exporters Worried Export-Import Bank’s Days Are Numbered)
Hensarling has not yet indicated whether he will allow the bill to move through the committee, but in the event that he refuses to do so, the bank’s defenders “hope Republican House leadership brings a bill to the floor,” bypassing Hensarling’s committee.
Club for Growth, a free-market advocacy group, issued a “Key Vote Alert” on Friday urging co-sponsors to withdraw their names, and warning that those who fail to do so “will receive negative points on the Club’s 2015 Congressional Scorecard.”
“HR 597 is disguised as offering real reform,” the Club writes, “but its true aim is to immortalize the Ex-Im Bank … [whose] actions are nothing more than market-distorting subsidies that pick winners and losers in the private sector.”
In a press release put out on Wednesday, however, Fincher asserted that, “the U.S. Ex-Im Bank has been a job-creator since its inception,” and claimed the reforms contained in his reauthorization bill would “make its practices more accountable and transparent than ever before.”
Fincher also pointed out that Americans “are demanding more economic opportunities and expansion of the job-market,” and said Congress could respond to those demands “by taking action now and supporting reforms to the Ex-Im Bank that improve its ability to support jobs and growth in communities across the nation.”
The Club disputes Fincher’s contentions, saying, “To quote President Obama, it’s little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”
Dan Holler, spokesman for the conservative group Heritage Action, offered a similar take, telling The Daily Caller News Foundation that, “Americans didn’t give Republicans a historic majority to hand out favors to K Street lobbyists and well-connected special interests.”
“A better course,” he said. “Would be to allow the Bank to expire and focus on an agenda that creates opportunity for everyone.” (RELATED: Is the Export-Import Bank Done?)
The Exporters for Ex-Im Coalition, on the other hand, told TheDCNF that they “stand behind any effort to support job creators in their efforts to increase export sales abroad and hire in the U.S.”
“While countries like China are taking every opportunity to give their companies an advantage over the competition,” they explained, “it would be wrong to tell our companies to compete with one arm tied behind their backs.”
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