WH cites Reagan in support of Ex-Im Bank

President Obama "strongly supports" the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, the White House said Monday, as business groups rallied to counter a conservative push to retire the Depression-era institution.

"The Ex-Im Bank helps American companies create and support jobs here at home at no cost to taxpayers," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. "And it helps us meet our export goals, which is why reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank has historically enjoyed bipartisan support in the past."

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On Sunday, incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Fox News he thought the bank should be dissolved because the government should not be involved in underwriting exports. Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has also signaled his opposition for renewing the charter for the bank, which underwrites foreign purchases of American goods.

"The private sector can do it,” McCarthy said. "One of the biggest problems with government is they go and take hard-earned money so others do things that the private sector can do. That’s what the Ex-Im Bank does."

Earnest said McCarthy was "certainly entitled to his own opinion" but noted that he had previously supported reauthorization. The White House spokesman also noted that former President Reagan supported the renewal of the bank's charter in 1986, calling it "needed leverage for use in negotiations to eliminate predatory financing practices."

"I can imagine that the incoming majority leader might discount a little bit what I have to say, but I'd be surprised if he discounted President Reagan's view on this," Earnest said.

Earlier Monday, 41 GOP members of the House signed a letter supporting reauthorization of the bank.

“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,” signees of the letter say. 

This story was updated at 4:45 p.m.

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