Battle over Ex-Im Bank ramping up ahead of next week's hearing

The House Financial Services Committee has lined up a several witnesses for a hearing next week who largely oppose renewal of the Export-Import Bank, a sign that conservatives will push hard to kill the agency.

Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Air Lines, who has played a significant role in opposing the Bank in the past few years, is slated to testify before the committee.

ADVERTISEMENT
Anderson told the Seattle Times last week that “the bank hurts Delta in a very serious way. Our tax dollars are used by the U.S. government to subsidize our foreign competitors, to take jobs from the U.S."

“We are opposed to the government picking and choosing between industries in our country,” he said. “Aviation and travel is a huge industry. We employ 80,000 people. We’re just as important as manufacturing.”

Anderson argues that a bulk of the Bank's loans go to Boeing to help foreign airlines purchase their airplanes. 

The panel on Friday announced the witnesses for the Wednesday hearing to discuss reauthorizing the Bank’s charter before it expires Sept. 30.

Lee Moak, head of the Air Line Pilots Association who is on the witness list, also has expressed concern about the Bank’s financing policies.

“The bank’s unnecessary financing of wide body aircraft provides state-sponsored foreign airlines, many of which have ample cash reserves and top tier credit ratings, an annual economic advantage of about $2 million per aircraft,” Moak wrote in an April letter to Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and ranking member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

Meanwhile, Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of the bank since 2009, will get his say and will urge lawmakers to move quickly to keep the agency up and running for exporters, especially amid a lack of other private financing options.

Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) opposes a reauthorization and deems the Bank a form of “corporate cronyism.”

The issue of reauthorization pits business interests, Democrats and some moderate Republicans that support the Bank vs. conservative lawmakers, firms like Delta, and outside groups who oppose its reauthorization.

Major business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) argue that another extension is needed to help smaller businesses boost ther exports.

Also among the witnesses is Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf to discuss a report showing that Ex-Im would lose money using different accounting methods. 

Another witness, Veronique de Rugy of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, has said that Ex-Im “is nothing more than corporate welfare."

She has argued that the Bank’s largest beneficiary is aircraft manufacturing but there isn’t a clear second place group because billions have been loaned to unnamed recipients between 2007 and 2014.

Also slated are Ex-Im Bank Inspector General Osvaldo Gratacós and Steve Wilburn, CEO of FirmGreen, an energy company in California, who was appointed to the Ex-Im Advisory Committee in 2012.  

So far, GOP leaders have handed off the Ex-Im debate to Hensarling.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who helped negotiate an the Bank's 2012 extension, had deferred to Hensarling and incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), said this week that he would do the same.