White House uses Ex-Im expiration to fire at GOP

White House uses Ex-Im expiration to fire at GOP
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The White House and congressional Democrats are using the midnight expiration of the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank’s charter to go on offense against the GOP, which they say is to blame for shutting down the bank.

President Obama held a conference call with members of the business community to highlight his solidarity with Ex-Im supporters, while Democrats in Congress ripped Republicans for not renewing the bank.

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“There is a substantial anti-Ex-Im caucus in both the Senate and the House, and we've got to push back against that,” Obama said during the call.

“The notion that this somehow only benefits big companies is wrong,” he added. “This helps small and medium sized businesses — and by the way, big companies like Boeing or G.E. have a whole lot of small and medium sized businesses who are suppliers of theirs.”

Ex-Im has run into opposition from conservatives, particularly in the House, where a majority of the GOP conference might be opposed to renewing the bank.

Opponents include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyGOP struggles with retirement wave Trump touts Washington Post story on GOP support Pence extends olive branch to Cummings after Trump's Baltimore attacks MORE (Calif.), the No. 2 Republican in the House.

Those opposed to the bank argue it is a form of Washington cronyism in which big businesses get benefits from their political allies. General Electric and Boeing received two-thirds of the bank's total loan commitments between 2007 and 2013.

Ex-Im finances overseas investments that are meant to increase U.S. trade.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has pledged to attach a Senate vote on extending the bank to “must-pass” legislation. He’s expected to allow a vote on it as an amendment to federal highway legislation in the Senate, where it would almost certainly be approved.

In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said opponents would be allowed a vote to remove the language if it is sent over by the Senate as part of a larger package. It is expected that House Democrats and pro-Ex-Im Republicans would carry the day and that the Senate measure would prevail.

Democrats piled on Tuesday to lambaste Republicans for opposing the bank.

“This is a failure of Republican leadership,” House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats headed for a subpoena showdown with White House Election security funds caught in crosshairs of spending debate New storm rises over Kavanaugh MORE (D-Md.) on a call with reporters.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) called the bank’s closure “unconscionable.”

“This is a shameful display once again of our Republican colleagues having the inability to govern,” added Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.).

Conservative critics, for their part, declared victory.

Dan Holler, a spokesman for Tea Party-affiliated group Heritage Action, said the bank's charter expiring “represents the culmination of three years of work to begin reducing the influence special interests have in Washington and our economy.”

“It must be frustrating for Democrats to find themselves defending corporate welfare at the behest of big unions and big businesses, but the expiration of the bank was intentional,” Holler said.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingHas Congress lost the ability or the will to pass a unanimous bipartisan small business bill? Maxine Waters is the Wall Street sheriff the people deserve Ex-GOP congressman heads to investment bank MORE (R-Texas) and other conservatives have argued that the bank hurts small businesses.

“There’s no doubt some U.S. companies receive a benefit from Ex-Im, but there’s also no doubt Ex-Im hurts other companies and their workers,” Hensarling said in a statement. 

He said, “As more Americans and more members of Congress learned about Ex-Im’s political lending, corruption and fundamental unfairness, the more they wanted it to expire.”