USA TODAY: Congress Lets Export-Import Bank Expire

07/01/2015

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BY: Susan Davis | 06/30/2015 2:03 pm | Source: USA Today

Congress Lets Export Import-Bank Expire

WASHINGTON — The charter for the Export-Import Bank of the United States expires at midnight Tuesday, delivering at least a short-term victory for fiscal conservatives and activists who targeted the 81-year-old institution as a free market distortion.

“This is a small step toward renewing a competitive free-market economy and arresting the rise of the progressive welfare state and the cronyism connected to it,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who had led the effort to end the bank. “Now the challenge for supporters of a competitive free-market economy is to make sure Ex-Im stays expired.”

Congress failed to address the charter’s expiration before they adjourned for the July 4 recess, but the bank’s supporters say they will seek to renew the charter retroactively next month. The relatively obscure bank is an independent agency that acts as the export credit agency for the U.S. government. Ex-Im, as it is commonly known, helps finance the foreign purchases of U.S. goods for private businesses and disproportionately supports major U.S. companies Boeing, Caterpillar and General Electric.

In recent years it has come under increased fire by conservative lawmakers and activists who label it corporate welfare. They want the bank to expire and slowly wind down its current loan contracts.

There are indicators the institution still has support in Congress despite conservative opposition.

A symbolic test vote in the Senate in early June showed 65 senators, a super-majority, in support of reauthorizing the charter. A 2012 House vote to reauthorize the charter passed overwhelming, 330-93.

Since then, however, the ranks of opponents have grown. Top GOP lawmakers, including House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., oppose its renewal.

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