Hensarling blasts Ex-Im request, calls hearing

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) on Friday blasted the Obama administration’s request for Congress to reauthorize the Export Import Bank, and announced a hearing on the controversial agency.

The administration on Wednesday asked Congress to renew the bank’s charter for five years and for its lending cap to be increased by $20 billion, to a total of $160 billion. The Bank's charter expires Oct. 1, but Hensarling reiterated his longstanding opposition to keeping the bank around.

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“I have always believed that re-authorizing the Export-Import Bank is a bad idea. In many respects, it’s the face of cronyism. So I was surprised, but not shocked, to see the bank ask Congress to raise its lending cap by $20 billion, to $160 billion,” Hensarling said in a statement. “Only in Washington can a taxpayer-subsidized program whose only purpose is to pick winners and losers ‘fail upward’ by requesting more money.”

The chairman said the institution has not done enough to address concerns that it is posing too great a risk to taxpayers.

“It is inconceivable that the bank is seeking a sizable increase in taxpayer exposure at a time when its own Inspector General has raised serious concerns about its risk management capabilities,” he said.

He said his committee will hold a hearing “in the coming months to discuss this reauthorization request and give Members an opportunity to publicly debate the merits of the Bank.”
 
The bank was reauthorized two years ago. The House voted to extend the life of the bank in a 330-93 vote after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) negotiated some changes to the institution.

Hensarling was one of the 93 Republicans who voted against that reauthorization.

The Export-Import Bank is designed to boost U.S. exports by allowing foreign purchasers of U.S. good and services to gain easier access to credit. The bank notes that last year it made $1.57 billion for the government. Reauthorization is supported by major business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers.