Two Republicans working on Ex-Im bills

Two Republican members of the House Financial Services Committee said Friday that they're considering introducing legislation that would reform and reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
Retiring Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) surprised the House Financial Services Committee earlier this week when he released a working draft of a proposal during an Ex-Im hearing. On Friday, the chairman of a subcommittee on monetary policy and trade said he is considering moving forward with a bill that would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

Separately, Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) also said he is considering introducing legislation to reauthorize the bank, which expires Sept. 30 and needs Congressional approval or it dies.

Fincher told The Hill that he and other Republican members of the House Financial Services Committee — including Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a staunch Ex-Im critic — met on Thursday to discuss Ex-Im reforms.
Fincher's move is significant because he voted against reauthorizing Ex-Im just two years ago. His and Campbell's actions suggest pressure to move forward in some way on the Export Import Bank, rather than letting it expire, is building in the GOP.
Fincher said he believes Hensarling would allow the Committee to take up an Ex-Im reform bill,though he stressed that Hensarling did not make that position clear during the meeting.
"I think if enough members on the committee — and there are many of us who want it to happen — I don’t think he’s going to hold up a good reform piece of legislation when many of us would be for it," Fincher said.

Fincher said the details of the reforms are being worked out, but that it would likely include incentives for the private sector to get into the export financing market. 

Campbell said he is considering introducing the legislation after the Fourth of July recess. He said that his office has heard from Ex-Im supporters and critics trying to learn more about the working draft in recent days.

"I'd be happy to introduce it," Campbell told The Hill. "I’ve always been this way: If someone else wants to take the bill and author it that’s fine with me, too. I’ve never cared if my name was on it or not."

He added: "Are there problems with Ex-Im? Absolutely there are. But are there benefits? Absolutely. We should preserve those benefits."

Campbell's proposal includes 20 reform provisions, including reducing how much money the bank can lend, lowering the total to $95 billion in 2017. It would also limit how much the bank can loan to foreign and state-owned businesses. 

Campbell said that he decided to release a draft proposal at Wednesday's hearing because he "didn't like where the debate was going." Ex-Im needs congressional reauthorization by Sept. 30 or it dies. 

While most Democrats support its reauthorization, it's become a divisive wedge issue between the Tea Party and establishment Republicans. The former argues the bank’s practices amount to corporate welfare and cronyism, while the latter say it is needed to finance U.S. businesses in emerging markets and support domestic jobs.

It is unclear whether Hensarling would take up an Ex-Im bill. If he decides not to, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would need to step in to enable the House to vote on reauthorization.

Campbell said he didn't think Hensarling would take up a bill, even if the Californian introduced one.

"Unfortunately, I think the chairman is making it the poster child for crony capitalism and now the business community is making it the poster child for, Are you pro business or not?" Campbell said. "I’m not sure it deservers to be on either of those posters."

Campbell said he worked on the draft of legislation with seven other Republican members of the House Financial Services Committee between January and March of this year. He said Hensarling staffers were present during some of the meetings, but declined to offer more specifics.

Campbell said that he didn't tell anyone outside of his staff that he was planning to release a draft proposal of legislation at Wednesday's Ex-Im reauthorization hearing.

"I figured if I told committee leadership or House leadership they’d tell me, 'No.' So I decided I wasn’t going to bother with that," Campbell told The Hill in a telephone interview from his district in Orange County, Calif.

He then quipped: "I guess that's one of the freedoms you have as a retiring member." 

This story was posted at 2:26 p.m. and updated at 3:07 p.m.