Exiting Boehner could bode well for Ex-Im

Greg Nash

Supporters of the Export-Import Bank believe House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerTop Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns The Hill's 12:30 Report Rep. Meadows to run for Freedom Caucus chairman MORE's resignation could present them with a new opportunity to reauthorize the institution.

They reason that BoehnerJohn BoehnerTop Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns The Hill's 12:30 Report Rep. Meadows to run for Freedom Caucus chairman MORE (R-Ohio), in the five weeks before he leaves Congress, will no longer be subject to pressure from the conservative critics who oppose the bank, which helps U.S. firms finance projects in foreign markets.

Without fear of reprisal from a part of the conference that has dogged him, Boehner could attach reauthorization language to a must-pass bill — potentially the legislation needed to avert a shutdown — before his resignation takes effect at the end of October.

Sources working on the reauthorization argue that Boehner hasn't been able to reauthorize the bank for fear of upsetting outside conservative groups who have vehemently opposed the federally backed bank as a form of "corporate welfare."

Within one hour of Boehner's resignation, Rep. Stephen FincherStephen FincherRep. Fincher to retire Export-Import Bank takes step toward renewal Transportation deal includes Ex-Im renewal MORE (R-Tenn.) said Buhner’s bombshell announcement made it more likely that Ex-Im would be reauthorized.

For his part, Boehner was largely seen as wanting to reauthorize the bank, but faced fierce resistance from conservatives like House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). Hensarling’s committee has jurisdiction over Ex-Im.

"The Speaker has been pretty clear that he's been for it with reforms, but politically he was in a tough spot," said Fincher, who introduced legislation on Friday that would reauthorize the bank for five years.

"With the Speaker's announcement, this is increases the chances that we could get this done with the government funding bill," Fincher said. "Speaker Boehner's resignation adds urgency that we need to finish this."

The bank's charter officially lapsed June 30, meaning that bank officials cannot finance any new projects but can continue to make good on their existing commitments. Political watchers agree that there are enough votes in both chambers to reauthorize the bank.

The business community has sought to link job losses and businesses moving projects overseas as opposed to in the U.S.

"I do think this is a great opportunity to finish this in the short-run so that we can deal with other issues that are more pressing," Fincher said.

Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler said that conservatives will be on the lookout to guard against Boehner making any deals with Democrats and the administration during his last weeks with the gavel.

It underscores Tea Party groups deep distrust with Boehner, with whom they've frequently clashed in an effort to pull to the right on policy.

“Conservatives cannot afford to look past the next month of legislative activity," Holler said.  "Speaker Boehner’s impending resignation does not alleviate the need to continue fighting against bad policy. Constituents will be watching to see what happens.”

Tony Fratto, a partner at the business communications consulting firm Hamilton Place Strategies, said he is "hopeful" Boehner's departure will help reauthorize the bank.

Fratto, who is overseeing a broad business alliance working to reauthorize the bank, said that governing "doesn't get easier without Boehner — it gets harder."

"Buckle up," Fratto said. "I'm really sorry to see Speaker Boehner go... He's a good man and was a good leader under very difficult circumstances.  It's amazing to me that these critics think he's not conservative."

Another source working to reauthorize the bank said that Boehner, who will likely be looking at job prospects in the coming weeks, "has an incentive to reauthorize Ex-Im, including that he wants to leave a legacy of taking steps to support jobs instead of helping end them."

The source said that "the new speaker likely won't want to start sitting in the chair with a vicious fight over Ex-Im and jobs."

"Ex-Im supporters in the House are vocal in their willingness to make hay out of this issue," the source said.