41 GOP lawmakers write Boehner to save Export-Import Bank

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Forty-one Republican House lawmakers on Monday signed a letter supporting reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, in the face of opposition from top GOP leaders.

The letter, first obtained by The Hill and addressed to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), comes a day after McCarthy said on "Fox News Sunday" that he believes Ex-Im's reauthorization should expire.

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“We believe that Congress should move forward with a multi-year reauthorization of Ex-Im that provides certainty and stability for U.S. manufacturers and exporters of all sizes,” reads the letter backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, circulated by Reps. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Gregg Harper (R-Miss.).

The letter urges GOP leaders to “work with all stakeholders to expedite consideration of Ex-Im reauthorization to ensure job creators in our districts have the certainty they need to compete in the global marketplace.”

The lawmakers signing the letter include House Financial Services Committee Vice Chairman Gary Miller (Calif.) and Rep. Pete King (N.Y.), the committee’s third-ranking Republican.

The letter intensifies a public battle, pitting Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) against top members of his own committee. Hensarling has been a vocal opponent of renewing the bank’s charter.

The Ex-Im bank has proven a contentious issue among House Republicans. Tea Party groups say the bank practices corporate cronyism, designed to help big businesses at taxpayer expense. But other Republicans say it helps secure thousands of jobs and keep American companies competitive in international markets.

Those divisions could be on full display at Wednesday Financial Services hearing on Ex-Im reauthorization, when bank President Fred P. Hochberg is slated to testify.

The federally backed bank, established in 1934, helps finance American businesses' foreign sales. Without congressional action before Sept. 30, the bank’s charter will expire.

McCarthy's opposition to the bank dealt a blow to supporters, who also lost a key ally when current Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost his primary election earlier this month. McCarthy previously supported reauthorization in 2012.

Now, without his support, it's unclear how or when an Ex-Im proposal will make it the House floor.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the incoming House majority whip, has also been a critic of the bank.

"If Republicans bring an Ex-Im bill to the floor, they’re going to split their conference in half," said Dan Hoeller, communications director for Heritage Action, which opposes Ex-Im reauthorization.

"When they’re preaching party unity — that’s the last thing they want to do,” he added.

Francis Creighton, head of government affairs at The Financial Services Roundtable, which supports Ex-Im, though, said that "based on the new majority leader's comments," the legislative path forward for Ex-Im reauthorization might be attaching it to a broad bill.

"The majority leader’s comments over the weekend certainly makes our job harder," Creighton said. "But we believe that the Ex-Im Bank has broad support across the House to create jobs and we’ll keep talking to every member of the House on an aggressive basis."

—This story was updated at 4:51 p.m.