WASHINGTON, May 6, 2015 – The future of the Export-Import Bank remains in doubt amid bitter, internal divisions in the House GOP caucus. That uncertainty is a particular concern for agricultural equipment manufacturers, which along with other sectors that relies on Ex-Im financing. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is at odds with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, over whether to extend the bank beyond its June 30 expiration date.
As House members prepared to leave for a week-long recess last week, Boehner told reporters “that thousands of jobs” could “disappear pretty quickly” if the bank went out of business, something a number of conservative groups such as Heritage Action for America, are working overtime to bring about. Democrats seized on the speaker’s remark at a Financial Services hearing later that same day with the president of Ex-Im, Fred Hochberg.
Asked by a Democrat, Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, if Boehner’s warning was accurate, Hochberg responded, “Without question.” That frustrated Republicans, who questioned the warning’s accuracy, given that the bank would continue to service existing loans, which run as long as 18 years, even if it lost its authorization to issue new ones.
One GOP committee member, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, even demanded to know what time of the day Hochberg had learned of Boehner’s comment. “I hate to think that you coordinated with the speaker’s office on that,” Mulvaney said.
A Senate GOP leader, John Thune of South Dakota, recently conceded that Export-Import reauthorization may have to originate in the Senate. When asked how the House would respond to a Senate reauthorization bill, Boehner would only tell reporters that he pitched the same question to Hensarling, the committee chairman.
“I’ve told the chairman he needs to come up with a plan…because the risk is if he does nothing the Senate is likely to act, and then what?”
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