A senior House Republican warned Wednesday that shutting down the Export-Import Bank would have devastating consequences on the U.S. economy.
Rep. Pete King of New York said that while Ex-Im needs additional reforms it would inject too much risk into the still fragile recovery to let the charter expire in September without any congressional action.
He argued that eliminating Ex-Im would be a blow to the economy and would put both small and large businesses at risk, especially since the economy is still in recovery mode.
"It’s just not appropriate, it’s not the responsible thing to do to end our authorization of Export-Import,” he said.
With King’s support, Democrats and nearly four dozen Republicans gain an outspoken ally in the fight to reauthorize the bank before its ability to fund new projects evaporates Sept. 30.
“I believe we have to find a way to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank,” he said.
King voted to reauthorize the bank in 2012.
With the bank's future up in the air, several committee Republicans, as well as Delta CEO Richard Anderson, who is critical of the bank's work in some areas, said they would support the reauthorization with changes to how it operates.
King said that amid allegations of corruption — several bank employees had been suspended for allegedly receiving gifts for helping businesses working with the bank — that reforms are necessary and said he would strongly support an effort to reform the bank before the September deadline.
“I think it’s essential that we do it,” King said.
He said that while Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has raised some important issues “we go too far if we just end it.”
“I know we hear of crony capitalism and that may happen in some cases” but he said that nearly a dozen small businesses in his district need Ex-Im to ship their products overseas.
"So it is important,” he said.
He argued that foreign countries such as India, China and South Korea provide seven times more support than Ex-Im for their businesses and “to me that is not a level playing field.”
“What we have to do, I believe is find a way to level the playing field," he said
"If we just end our Export-Import Bank I believe we are definitely giving advantage to our foreign competitors.”
He expressed interest in a draft plan by offered up by Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) that would provide additional reforms for the bank.
Campbell’s working draft is a three-year reauthorization measure that would wind down the lending cap by a total of $45 billon that time, $15 billion a year, gradually lowering the amount to $95 billion in 2017.
On Tuesday, Democratic Reps. Denny Heck (Wash.) and William Lacy Clay (Mo.) offered up a bill that would extend the bank’s charter for seven years, until 2021 and increase the lending cap to $175 billion.
House Democratic leaders put their support behind the measure and 200 Democrats signed onto the bill prompting House Financial Services Committee ranking member Maxine Waters (Calif.) to argue that there is a clear majority of support in the House.
Waters added that 41 Republicans sent a letter to House GOP leadership on Tuesday saying that they support keeping Ex-Im up and running.
At the end of April, the White House sent legislation to Capitol Hill that would extend the bank’s authority for five years and increase the lending cap by $5 billion each fiscal year from 2015 through 2018, with an exposure limit capped at $160 billion.