Distracted House members leave opening for Ex-Im Bank

Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., might be feeling vindicated after the recent turn of events regarding the Export-Import Bank. (Legislation reauthorizing the bank went to the House floor under a discharge petition Oct. 9. A vote is scheduled on the bill Oct. 26.)

Mr. Fincher, who represents a district that runs from the Memphis suburbs to Kentucky, was one of the leaders of the fight to allow the Ex-Im Bank to keep making loans or loan guarantees to finance exports of U.S. products last summer.

Congress failed to renew its charter when it expired June 30, and some companies have already felt the impact. General Electric announced last month it was moving 500 jobs from Maine, New York, South Carolina and Texas to China, France and Hungary, countries that offer export financing when private lenders won’t or can’t.

This occurred despite such claims as that by Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., one of the opponents of the reauthorization: “We don’t need an Ex-Im bank. I think we can compete and beat anybody around the world.”

Congressmen who oppose renewing the charter, mostly conservatives, call the bank “corporate welfare,” which is interesting since they don’t apply the same label to oil companies that get billions of dollars in tax breaks or international companies that shelter foreign earnings overseas.

Jonathan Bernstein, a columnist for Bloomberg News, says the House Freedom Caucus, which now represents the Tea Party element in Congress, shot itself in the foot, so to speak, with its calls for weaker leadership in the House so “members could pursue their own agenda.”

Normally, when legislation such as the Ex-Im Bank bill is opposed by the leadership, it stays bottled up under the “Hastert” rule, which says nothing moves forward without the approval of the majority. After Speaker Boehner resigned and Rep. Kevin McCarthy bailed out of the speaker race, Bernstein writes, non-Freedom Caucus members felt they could sign the discharge petition without fear of retribution since the House was basically leaderless.

That development may be of little consolation for Rep. Fincher, who has already faced a spate of negative advertising after his courageous stand bought by conservative lobbying groups. What happens now will depend on the voters next year.

For more on the Export-Import Bank visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export-Import_Bank_of_the_United_States



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