GOP chairman threatens subpoena of Ex-Im bank

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling is threatening to subpoena the Export-Import Bank as lawmakers clash over the renewal of the agency’s charter.

ADVERTISEMENT
Hensarling (R-Texas), a staunch critic of the bank, and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) blasted Ex-Im Chairman Fred Hochberg for failing to make three officials available for transcribed interviews with subcommittee staff, calling the move “unacceptable.”

"The Bank's inadequate and unacceptable response deprives the committee of information necessary to critically examine the Bank's day-to-day operations and assess" the bank's request for a new charter, Hensarling and McHenry wrote in a letter sent on Monday that was made public on Tuesday.

Letter to Hochberg

Hensarling and McHenry warned Hochberg they will work with the House Oversight Committee "to obtain all such information by means of compulsory process, including through the taking of depositions pursuant to subpoena."

The lawmakers last month requested the chance to interview three top Ex-Im officials: Charles J. Hall, the executive vice president and chief risk officer, David M. Sena, the chief financial officer, and Angela Mariana Freyre, the senior vice president and general counsel.

"The Bank respectfully declines," Hochberg wrote in a response letter dated July 24 that was first made public on Tuesday.

Hochberg letter

Hochberg said that "the Bank has worked cooperatively over the past five and half years of this Administration, never once declining to bring in staff from the Bank for briefings on any request."

"It is not common practice for the subcommittee to do transcribed interviews," Hochberg wrote in response. "In fact, it is our understanding that only one transcribed interview has been conducted by the subcommittee. Furthermore, there has been no indication of the topics the subcommittee would like to discuss with the Bank employees."

Hensarling opposes renewing the bank's charter. If Congress doesn't reauthorize Ex-Im by Sept. 30, the agency will shut down.

Hensarling's committee has jurisdiction over the reauthorization bill, leaving the fate of the Ex-Im bill in doubt.

Conservatives such as Hensarling oppose Ex-Im on the grounds that it is "corporate welfare" designed to help big businesses such as Boeing.

Centrist Republicans and most Democrats argue that the bank is needed to help U.S. companies make inroads in emerging markets. Business groups are lobbying heavily in favor of renewing the bank.