Waters blasts McCarthy over change in Ex-Im stance

A senior House Democrat on Tuesday blasted a decision by a top GOP leader to oppose the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, criticized incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for changing his mind about supporting the bank after backing it in the past.

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"Just days after being elected majority leader, it’s clear that Mr. McCarthy has already fallen under the control of the most extreme elements of the Republican party, who remain determined to eliminate the Export-Import Bank,” Waters said in a statement.

“His change in position is significant, given that he supported the renewal of Ex-Im’s charter in 2012, and as Whip, encouraged his colleagues to do the same.”

Without congressional action, the bank’s charter will expire Sept. 30.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday reiterated that he is deferring to the House Financial Services Committe on the issue, making efforts to move forward more difficult. 

Since 2007, Ex-Im has financed more than $230 billion in U.S. exports, supporting $37.4 billion in 2013, which supporters say has created or sustained more than 1.2 million U.S. jobs in the last five years.

There are 59 other export financing companies being run by other countries.

Waters highlighted that in McCarthy’s district Ex-Im has supported $233 million in exports since 2007, made $69 million in disbursements and $60 million in total authorizations.

The bank’s charter was last renewed in 2012 after a similar battle with conservatives.

That debate led to a deal between outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). The bill passed easily in both chambers — 330-93 in the House, all were Republicans in opposition, and 78-20 in the Senate.

The Financial Services panel will hold a hearing on Wednesday to examine the reauthorization of the bank with Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) opposing the effort and arguing that it is time to exit Ex-Im.

Waters has joined with Reps. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) and William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) in introducing legislation on Tuesday that would extend the bank’s charter until 2021 and extend the current cap by $5 billion each year.

Heck is reintroducing his seven-year reauthorization of the bank and an increase in the lending cap to $175 billion.

At the end of April, the White House sent legislation to Capitol Hill that would extend the bank’s authority for five years and increase the lending cap by $5 billion each fiscal year from 2015 through 2018, with an exposure limit capped at $160 billion.

“The Export-Import Bank is a reliable way for American business—including many small businesses — to sell their goods and services into the world marketplace,” Heck said.

“If we abandon this resource, we are allowing China, Russia and European countries to gain ground in export deals previously made with us, the economic equivalent of forfeiting in the World Cup when we know we have the best team."

Waters argued that closing the bank would send “a clear message to America’s business community: you are on your own, because this Republican controlled-House of Representatives does not support your efforts to invest, innovate, create jobs and grow your business.”

Business groups on Monday demanded a vote on the bank arguing that it would pass if it reaches the floor. 

Failure to reauthorize the bank could affect the nation's fragile job and economic growth.

“Our economy is still fragile and now is not the time to stop a program that has clearly succeeded in its mission to grow good American jobs by encouraging exports,” said Tim Pawlenty, head of the Financial Services Roundtable.