Conservative groups oppose Export-Import Bank lifeline

Conservative groups oppose Export-Import Bank lifeline
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Three dozen conservative groups on Friday urged Republican leaders in Congress to reject efforts to restore the Export-Import Bank to full power using a stopgap spending bill.

Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity spearheaded a letter urging top lawmakers to oppose a push by congressional supporters to ease the quorum requirement for the 82-year-old agency in a continuing resolution under consideration.

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“We have significant concerns on the procedure,” the groups said in the letter to Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.). 

"Attaching this quorum change to a continuing resolution is the latest in a line of efforts that subvert congressional processes,” the groups wrote.

Republican and Democratic supporters of the bank are urging congressional leaders to attach a provision to the spending measure that would reduce for three years the number of people needed for the Ex-Im board to approve loans of more than $10 million.

The temporary change would reduce the requirement to two from three on the five-member board.

“This would make it easier for the agency to make risky, taxpayer-backed loans to big businesses and foreign corporations,” the groups which include Club for Growth, Heritage Action and Freedom Works, wrote. 

Supporters of approving the provision — added to Senate and House spending bills but Republican lawmakers — say this is the only way to provide Ex-Im with a lifeline because Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has refused to consider a nominee that would give the board a quorum. 

“This provision would subvert the Senate approval process for board members of the Export-Import Bank and set a concerning precedent for future accountability," they wrote.

Without a change, Ex-Im officials say more than 30 transactions worth more than $20 billion will remain stuck in the pipeline.

In January, President Obama nominated Mark McWatters, a Republican who once worked for House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

Congress is aiming to pass a short-term spending bill before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.