House Republicans dive into Ex-Im debate June 25

The House Financial Services Committee will discuss the merits of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank on June 25.

The committee told members about the hearing Wednesday, and it sets the stage for a debate on one of the more contentious items left on Congress’s agenda this year. The prospect of extending the bank, which provides billions of dollars in government guarantees to encourage American business activity abroad, has created a sharp divide among some business-friendly Republicans and their more conservative counterparts.

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Among the loudest voices in the group opposing an extension has been Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who has blasted the bank as “corporate cronyism” from the government. Hensarling has said he would oppose another reauthorization of the bank, and outside conservative groups are also loudly pushing lawmakers to let it expire at the end of September.

Meanwhile, major business groups are pushing hard for another extension, calling it a critical component to doing business abroad competitively. The hearing could indicate how hard conservatives will push to kill the bank against a reauthorization push from fellow lawmakers.

So far, GOP leaders have handed the reins of the Ex-Im debate to Hensarling. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who helped negotiate an earlier extension to the bank, has said he is deferring to Hensarling this time around. And with Cantor out of leadership following his primary loss, his likely successor is singing a similar tune.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the odds-on favorite to replace Cantor, told members Wednesday he too would let Hensarling lead on reauthorizing the bank.

A witness list was not included with the announcement, but a year ago, a Financial Services subcommittee discussed reauthorization with Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of the bank, as well as the bank’s inspector general and an official from the Government Accountability Office.