Governors rally behind Ex-Im

Congress is facing mounting pressure from the states to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, with dozens of governors urging lawmakers to renew the bank’s charter before it expires in June.

Thirty governors sent a letter to members of congressional leadership on Tuesday, urging them to breathe new life into the bank, which backs loans for certain overseas companies that do business with American firms.

They sent the letter a day before Ex-Im President Fred Hochberg is expected to fight for the bank’s survival before members of the House Financial Services Committee.

A broad coalition of business groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers(NAM) — is battling for reauthorization of the bank’s charter, which expires June 30.

Tuesday’s letter is perhaps the most aggressive pitch from the state level on what has become an increasingly divisive fight.

Eleven Republican governors, including Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin are calling for the bank’s reauthorization.

“The Ex-Im Bank is a crucial tool that both small and large businesses use to compete fairly in the world market, increase their exports, stimulate job creation, and contribute to the growth of our states’ economies,” the governors wrote in the letter, first obtained by The Hill.

Tea Party groups, such as Freedom Partners, have pushed back against the business community. They argue Ex-Im is little more than corporate welfare to help big businesses like Boeing.

The bank’s opposition has been bolstered by the likes of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Republican presidential candidates Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Ky.).

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, both potential presidential candidates, also oppose the bank.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) hasn’t said whether he will move a reauthorization bill through his panel, which has jurisdiction over the issue.

He, too, opposes the measure.

Tom Wolfe of Pennsylvania and Terry McAulliffe of Virginia are among the Democrat governors who signed on to the letter.

The bank’s proponents are intensifying their campaign in support of the renewing its charter, which has traditionally been approved with little fanfare.

The Chamber, NAM and dozens of other business groups are part of the Exports for Ex-Im Coalition, which targeted local newspapers and radio channels, as well as town hall meetings during the recent recess to urge lawmakers to reauthorize the bank.

“This support was buoyed by radio and digital ads we developed in more than a dozen states featuring local manufacturers and exporters, as well as a letter today,” the coalition said in a statement.

The group said its pitch was simple: “Save local jobs and the U.S. economy by supporting the bank.”

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