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GOP Leadership Ready to Let Ex-Im Bank Expire? Don’t Cheer Just Yet.

Ex-Im Bank Sign

Despite the principled limited government constitutional conservative opposition of House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (TX-5), the dynamics of the battle to end the corrupt cronyism of the Export – Import Bank continue to evolve. The reality of the vote count at this point is with some establishment GOP support in the House and Senate for a reauthorization of the bank, and with near-unanimous support among Democrats, it’s likely the bank would be reauthorized if killing it were put up for a vote.

But killing it doesn’t require a vote.

Asked what he thought would happen to the bank, which largely finances and insures foreign purchases of the products of a few corporate lobbying powerhouses, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise offered a simple path to killing this remnant of the New Deal.

“It’s set to expire,” he said.

Pressed in an interview with Roll Call to explain his “it’s set to expire” comment Scalise was a little clearer: “At this point, [Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas] has said he wants it to expire, and I think it’s on track to go that way,” Scalise said according to reporting by Roll Call’s Matt Fuller.

The bank’s charter expires on June 30, and Hensarling and other fiscal hawks, who dismiss the bank as little more than “corporate welfare,” are content to see the 81-year-old agency fade away noted Fuller.

Yes, Hensarling has been steadfast in his opposition. Yes, other chairmen with a piece of jurisdiction over the bank — Paul D. Ryan for Ways and Means and Tom Price for Budget — have signaled opposition. But conservatives should not break into a round of “Ding-Dong! The Bank Is Dead” just yet.

But there are plenty of establishment Republicans, privately and publicly, reports Fuller, who feel leaders have an obligation to give them a vote on reauthorization — a vote that, with the help of Democrats, would likely pass.

Much of the question with the bank is how GOP leaders will handle Hensarling’s resistance to a reauthorization bill. Would they force Hensarling to consider a bill? Would they simply subvert the committee process?

Questions like those demand that conservatives opposed to reauthorization keep a wary eye on the House and Senate establishment Republican leadership.

And a careful parsing of Scalise’s answer to Matt Fuller’s questions about the Ex-Im Bank should tell conservatives that he didn’t exactly voice opposition to the bank. He simply offered a prediction in keeping with a voting record of opposition to reauthorization.

After the interview, Fuller reported that Scalise’s office told CQ Roll Call the Republican Whip is opposed to the bank in its current form.

As Fuller correctly observed that might mean there is some version of Ex-Im Scalise could support. Or it might just be a hedge.

Our friend David McIntosh, President of The Club for Growth was quick to send some positive reinforcement Scalise’s way saying, “Steve Scalise has been a clear voice of opposition to Ex-Im. He voted against its reauthorization in 2012… Now, Majority Whip Scalise and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy can keep Ex-Im on track for expiration. Republican leaders and presidential candidates, like Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Walker, and Bush, want Ex-Im abolished, while Obama, Hillary, and Pelosi want its corruption and corporate welfare continued. House Republican leadership needs to stay firmly on the right side of this debate and ensure that Ex-Im goes completely away.”   

Providing positive reinforcement when a member of the House leadership apparently takes a conservative position is good tactics for The Club for Growth , but with Roll Call’s Fuller reporting that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy could be changing his mind from willing to let the bank’s authorization expire to advocating it’s reauthorization, conservatives should carefully parse exactly what the Republican establishment says and be prepared to act when they abandon the conservative position in favor of the Big Business cronyism that remains the hallmark of their tenure as the majority in Congress.

 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.

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