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Hensarling Heats Up Battle To End Crony Ex-Im Bank

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling


As our friends at The Club for Growth announced the release of TV ads urging four Members of Congress to join conservatives and end the Export-Import Bank one of the targets of the ads – Rep. Bill Flores (TX-17) – announced his opposition to reauthorization and House Financial Service Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling stepped-up his attacks on the corporate welfare honeypot.

The Club for Growth ads will air, starting today, in the congressional districts of Chairmen Rob Bishop (UT-1) and Bill Shuster (PA-9), and Representatives David McKinley (WV-1) and Chris Stewart (UT-2), on broadcast and cable TV in Salt Lake City, Johnstown, PA, Clarksburg, WV, and Wheeling, WV.

The new ads are part of an overall $1 million campaign, including digital advertising, that began last month in the congressional districts of Renee Ellmers (NC-02), Stephen Fincher (TN-08), Buddy Carter (GA-01) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores (TX-17), who has now come out in opposition to renewing the Ex-Im Bank’s charter when it expires June 30.

However, killing this corrupt vestige of the New Deal is but no means a given.

POLITICO reports that in exchange for votes on an unrelated trade bill on Thursday, Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have separately said that legislation to rescue the bank is likely to come to vote.

In other words, by using the legalized corruption of bribing Members of Congress by exchanging votes, Capitol Hill’s establishment Republican leaders plan to save the illegal corruption endemic to the Ex-Im Bank.

You can’t make this stuff up.

On Thursday, according to POLITICO, McConnell promised Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) a vote on Ex-Im — likely attached to another piece of legislation. Boehner, meanwhile, said if the Senate passes an extension, it will come to the floor under a free-wheeling process, which will include a wide range of amendments. Hensarling would have to find 216 other Republicans to strip it out of an existing bill, which will test his powers of persuasion and ability to whip votes observed POLITICO’s Jake Sherman and Victoria Guida.

“Our leadership has committed the House to regular order, which is a fair process,” Hensarling said in a statement to POLITICO. “We will have to see what, if anything, the Senate does. But momentum in the House is clearly in favor of those of us who do not wish to reauthorize Ex-Im. Even worse, it’s a corporate giveaway program for foreign corporations and state-owned businesses like Russian banks, Chinese airlines and Saudi oil companies. The American people do not want privilege and subsidy. What they want is freedom and opportunity and that’s what this fight is all about.”

Hensarling will square off against other Republicans, who will offer amendments to reform the bank — but not shut it down. Tennessee Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher, one of the targets of The Club for Growth ad campaign, and author of a plan to “reform” the Ex-Im Bank will play a key role in the fight.

Idaho Republican Raul Labrador argued that Boehner shouldn’t allow a vote on the bank without having it go through committee — which it never will, due to Hensarling’s opposition.

“I don’t know if it makes it harder [to kill the bank],” he said of Boehner’s move. “I think he should not be doing that. I think he should allow the chairman of the committee jurisdiction to work on this issue. What really matters is what the majority of the Republican conference wants. If the majority is not OK with it, it shouldn’t be coming to the floor.”

So what’s Congress to do?

Our friend Allyne Caan, writing for The Patriot Post, noted several members, including several presidential candidates or potential candidates, say the bank needs to go — whether quickly or over time. Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, all with eyes set on 2016, have come out against the bank, as have Governors Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, as well as former CEO Carly Fiorina. Senator Lindsay Graham, not surprisingly, has come out in favor of the bank.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who was for the bank before he was against it, recently announced his opposition to Ex-Im, not on philosophical grounds, but given “recent revelations of corruption and bribery at the institution.”

Indeed, Ex-Im has been called out for noncompliance with congressionally mandated reforms and is the subject of 31 open fraud investigations.  A situation Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a Hensarling ally, said means the Obama administration would ignore congressional changes to the bank.

At issue is whether the federal government has a constitutional reason to redirect taxpayer dollars to foreign countries and customers. Subsidizing the purchase of U.S. exports picks winners and losers at great expense and it’s probably contrary to what the market would dictate concludes The Patriot Post’s Caan.

Caan says for the party in congressional power — which supposedly stands for free markets — letting Ex-Im’s charter expire should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen all too often, even no-brainers can sometimes prove a stretch for Republican congressional leadership.

Please join the leaders of over 50 conservative organizations by signing the conservative letter to Congress demanding that your Representative and Senators let the Export - Import Bank expire on June 30, 2015.

To view the Club for Growth’s new TV ads urging Members to not reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, click here.

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