Trump taps USTR’s Gerrish as acting head of Export-Import Bank
President Trump has tapped Jeffrey Gerrish to be acting president of the Export-Import Bank.
Gerrish, who recently joined the Trump administration, will maintain his role at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) while taking the helm of the 84-year-old agency.
The designation by Trump as acting president doesn’t require congressional approval, an Ex-Im spokesperson told The Hill.
The White House didn’t provide information on when Gerrish would start at Ex-Im.
Gerrish was confirmed on March 5 by the Senate as the deputy U.S. trade representative for Asia, Europe, the Middle East and industrial competitiveness, a job he will work simultaneously with Ex-Im, a USTR spokesperson said.
The agency has been without a quorum — needing at least three members of a five-member board — since late 2015. Without a quorum, the bank can’t approve loans of more than $10 million.
Large and small businesses have been urging the White House and the Senate to push forward on getting the bank back up and running at full speed again.
“What manufacturers want to see is the Ex-Im Bank become fully operational again, which means confirming the president’s four qualified nominees to the agency’s board of directors,” said Linda Dempsey, vice president of international economic affairs with the National Association of Manufacturers.
“These nominees share the president’s strong support of the important role Ex-Im plays in creating American jobs and giving our manufacturers a level global playing field. Only competitors like China benefit from an idle Ex-Im Bank,” Dempsey said.
Opponents argue that the bank is a form of crony capitalism and have fought for the past several years to shutter the agency.
For months, the Senate has been at an impasse on confirming four nominees to Ex-Im’s board of directors.
What the Gerrish move means for the board nominees stuck in the Senate remains to be seen.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) said “now is not the time to abandon efforts to install a full-time, Senate-confirmed president of the bank.”
He said that designating Gerrish as acting president “means that the position will not have the full attention it deserves” and it won’t restore a quorum.
“Without a quorum the bank has not been fully operational for more than three years, causing American businesses to miss out on many large overseas contracts that would boost American exports and jobs,” he said.
The Ex-Im Bank has been without a president since Trump took office.
Jeffrey Goettman, who is Ex-Im’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, is acting president and chairman of the agency.
Trump’s first pick to helm the agency — former Republican Rep. Scott Garrett (N.J.) — failed to get through the Senate Banking Committee.
Prior to joining USTR, Gerrish practiced international trade law for nearly 20 years at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom.
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