GOP senate hopeful backs the Ex-Im bank

The Republican nominee for a critical Senate seat in Iowa is breaking with Tea Party groups on reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

Joni Ernst told CNBC in an interview that aired Wednesday she supports the bank, despite the stiff opposition to renewing its charter from groups on the right.

“Iowa’s economy — we have many spin-off industries, like Vermeer, we have John Deere, and they rely on Ex-Im Bank,” she said. “And as long as other countries offer that opportunity to their exporters, I think that’s something that we need to offer to our industries, also.”

While Ernst has garnered some Tea Party support, including endorsements from former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) and the Senate Conservatives Fund, she was one of the rare candidates who managed to unite the often-warring factions within the GOP ahead of her June primary. She was endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, American Crossroads and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, among others.

Ernst’s Democratic opponent in Iowa, Bruce Braley, supports Ex-Im as well. Polls have Braley and Ernst in a dead heat in the race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Tea Party groups oppose Ex-Im because they say it only supports big businesses and is a form of “cronyism.”

Centrist Republicans, as well as most Democrats, support Ex-Im because they say it helps sustain U.S. jobs, while allowing businesses to make inroads in emerging markets.

Congress must reauthorize Ex-Im by Sept. 30, or it will shut down. It’s unclear whether House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who opposes the bank, will move forward with a reauthorization bill.

A broad coalition of business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Coalition for Employment through Exports (CEE) are putting heavy pressure on lawmakers over the recess to reauthorize the bank.

CEE President John Hardy told reporters on Wednesday he still hopes Congress will pass a reauthorization bill.

But he said the consensus now points toward a short-term reauthorization that would be attached to a government funding measure, commonly known as a continuing resolution (CR).

“We recognize that we’re not going to get the process completed before everyone leaves for the midterm elections,” Hardy said in response to a question from The Hill. “So it’s [likely] going to have to go on a CR.”

But whether the CR would extend Ex-Im until the end of the calendar year or into early next year remains unknown, Hardy said.

“The CR would just carry you only a certain period of time,” Hardy said. “It’s not the expectation that the bank would be on a CR for an extended period … but at this point, everything is fluid.”

Hardy said the “ideal” situation would be for some House Republicans to introduce a reauthorization bill during the first week Congress returns from recess that could serve as a foundation for negotiations after the elections.

“While it’s on the CR, basically we’d continue to negotiate and garner additional support so that after the midterms we’re in a position we can continue to make progress on the process of reauthorization,” he said.

Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), who opposed Ex-Im reauthorization in 2012, is working on a reauthorization bill.

Hardy said that Reps. Gary Miller (R-Calif.), vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Committee, are also working on a reauthorization measure.

“They run parallel,” Hardy said of Miller-Waters’s and Fincher’s legislation. “They could be combined fairly readily. Then, we’d have a single bill that the business community can get behind.”

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) have introduced a bipartisan Ex-Im reauthorization bill in the Senate, where it has broad support.

Tags Bruce Braley Bruce Braley Export Import Bank Iowa Joe Manchin Mark Kirk Stephen Fincher Tom Harkin

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