Waters blasts GOP opposition to bank

Greg Nash

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) used a Wednesday hearing to blast GOP leaders for opposing reauthorization of the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank.

Waters argued Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has made killing the bank his top priority and questioned whether the hearing would be fair.

{mosads}“Let’s be serious, this hearing is not going to be a forthright discussion of the merits of the bank. Mr. Chairman, we know your position on the bank,” said Waters, the panel’s ranking Democrat.

“We know you’ve made ending the Bank your top priority — regardless if it’s at the expense of thousands of American companies trying to compete against businesses in China, Russia, Korea and countries across Europe — all of which have their own version of the Ex-Im Bank,” said the longtime House liberal and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, who finds herself siding with the Chamber of Commerce and that National Association of Manufacturers in the bank fight.

Democrats have sought to highlight GOP opposition to the Export-Import Bank this week after House Majority Leader-elect Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) reversed course and opposed the bill. They argue McCarthy’s shift is the latest example of the Tea Party taking over the GOP, something they also blame for an impasse on immigration reform.

The Export-Import Bank provides loans and loan guarantees to the companies investing overseas. The purpose of the financing is to boost U.S. exports and investments.

Hensarling and other opponents of Ex-Im argue it is a former of crony capitalism where the federal government gets to pick winners and losers.

He also said Ex-Im ends up supporting projects in countries such as China and Russia that are U.S. rivals in economic and foreign policy spheres.

“The taxpayer money goes overseas to China and Russia — nations that openly challenge our economic and security interests,” Hensarling said in his opening remarks. “The taxpayer money goes to oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The taxpayer money even goes to countries with a demonstrated history of atrocious human rights abuses like the Congo and the Sudan.”

He said Ex-Im was a “sweetheart deal” for politically connect banks and companies since “taxpayers shoulder the risk and you get the reward.”

“But if you work at a small business or other American company competing in the global marketplace, it’s unfair. Ex-Im effectively taxes you while subsidizing your foreign competitors,” Hensarling said. “We hear a lot from powerful voices on K Street and Wall Street about the bank, but we should also listen carefully to some voices from Main Street.”

Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson testified Wednesday about how the bank’s support for Boeing has led to foreign competitors benefitting from the manufacturing of planes overseas to undercut Delta’s ticket prices.

Anderson didn’t call for the bank to be killed off, but he said it had to be reformed to restrict financing of “widebody aircraft” to state-owned or supported airlines. He also argued that Boeing can find financing in the private market.

“If we’re serious about creating jobs, this bank needs to be reformed,” Anderson said.

Waters said she was “dismayed” that McCarthy supported Ex-Im reauthorization in 2012 but now opposes it.

“I’m saddened he has followed the lead of the extremists in an effort to show his Tea Party credentials,” Waters said.

Tags Boeing Delta Airlines Export-Import Bank House Financial Services Committee Jeb Hensarling Kevin McCarthy Maxine Waters

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