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Hensarling: ‘Momentum Is In Our Favor’ For Ending Ex-Im

Republicans are confident they can prevent reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, saying that opinion is coalescing against the corruption and cronyism it represents.

Some of Ex-Im’s fiercest congressional critics joined leaders of conservative organizations Tuesday for a press conference during which they claimed that revelations of corruption and favoritism at the bank are rapidly eroding its support among House Republicans.

Unless Congress acts to extend its charter by June 30, the taxpayer-backed export credit institution will lose the ability to issue new financing, though it will continue to honor existing agreements. (RELATED: Is the Export-Import Bank Done?)

“All Congress has to do is what Congress does best: nothing,” explained Rep. Jim Jordan, noting there is enough opposition to Ex-Im in the House to prevent any potential reauthorization bill from reaching the floor, as long as House Speaker John Boehner honors his pledge to allow the debate to play out through normal procedures.

Accusations of cronyism and corporate welfare were a common theme, with several speakers alleging that a lack of accountability allows Ex-Im to operate primarily for the benefit of large corporations that do not actually need government assistance. (RELATED: Small Business Becomes Pawn in Ex-Im’s Fate)

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who chairs the Financial Services Committee (through which a reauthorization bill would have to pass), framed the issue as a question of supporting free enterprise rather than business interests, calling opposition to Ex-Im “an important chapter in the history of the conservative movement.”

“Momentum is in our favor,” he asserted. “The American people know cronyism when they see it.”

Supporters often claim that Ex-Im is necessary for U.S. exporters to be competitive in the global marketplace, but Rep. Bill Huizenga called that argument “a sad commentary on the state of U.S. competitiveness,” saying businesses should be allowed to stand and fall on their own merits.

The representatives also hammered the bank over widespread corruption, pointing out that Ex-Im’s own inspector general recently told Congress there are currently 31 open investigations of bribery on the part of bank officials.

Rep. John Fleming, for one, expressed little surprise at the revelation, saying, “Corruption goes along with large amounts of unaccountable money.” (RELATED: ‘Complete Lack of Control’ Threatens Huge US Loan)

Despite a strong lobbying effort from supporters of the bank, the consensus at Tuesday’s press conference was that Ex-Im would not be reauthorized, because even if the Senate attempted to attach reauthorization to another issue, the House would be able to remove any such amendment before voting.

Ending Ex-Im “is about standing up for average Americans,” Rep. Justin Amash concluded. “We as a Congress need to represent all Americans, not just the ones we meet at lobbying dinners.”

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