Conservative groups are gearing up for a fight over the Export-Import Bank, weeks ahead of a deadline to pass a bill to keep the government funded and operating.
The heads of two prominent groups — Heritage Action and the Club for Growth — wrote a letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) on Monday urging him to let the bank’s charter expire Sept. 30.
“The Export-Import Bank is a small thing, this we know,” Chris Chocola of the Club for Growth and Mike Needham of Heritage Action wrote on Monday, the first day Congress was back in session after a five-week end-of-summer recess.
“But Leader McCarthy, if you can’t start with the Export-Import Bank, then how can Americans trust the Republican Party to tackle the big challenges our nation faces after six years of President Obama and his failed policies?”
The expiration of the bank’s charter comes with the same deadline to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded and avoid another federal government shutdown.
Renewing the bank’s charter has become a source of heated debate within the Republican Party, with many — including the party’s leaders like McCarthy, House Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), and House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) — saying it serves as little more than a source of corporate welfare. The bank provides direct loans, guarantees, and credit insurance to aid foreign purchasers in buying American-made goods.
But House leaders also desperately want to avoid even a hint of drama leading up to a potential shutdown scenario, especially ahead of crucial midterm elections. In a recent interview with Business Insider, Ryan suggested the House would pass a short-term reauthorization of the bank’s charter, postponing a more comprehensive debate over the bank until after the elections.
The House could also try to attach an Ex-Im Bank reauthorization to the bill to keep the government funded.
“Many of us who are critical of the bank feel that the wisest course is to carry this fight into next year,” Ryan said.
Immediately after the groups’ letter to McCarthy was released, Heritage Action said separately it would “key vote” against any legislation including any reauthorization of the bank — including a continuing resolution.
“In terms of politics, there will be some who profess opposition to Ex-Im while publicly worrying that President Obama and Senate Democrats will consider an extension of the bank as a prerequisite to fund the federal government,” Heritage Action communications director Dan Holler said.
“Such partisan brinksmanship on the eve of an important national election would be detrimental, they will argue. But Ex-Im is the poster child for cronyism and corporate welfare, and conservatives cannot shy away the national spotlight. Conservatives will not drift into catching a national electoral wave in their favour — they must work to earn a decisive election. The conservative-led demise of the Export-Import Bank would allow America’s supposedly conservative party to shed the ugly and poorly fitting clothes of cronyism that many have worn for far too long.”
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