Finance

Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations

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The Senate on Wednesday voted to confirm three officials to the board of the Export-Import Bank, restoring the federal manufacturing subsidizer to full strength in a blow to its conservative critics.

Senators voted to confirm Kimberly Reed as president of the Ex-Im Bank and approved the nomination of former Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Judith DelZoppo Pryor to be members of the bank’s board of directors.

{mosads}Senators voted 79 to 17 to confirm Reed, with 16 Republicans and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in opposition. Bachus was confirmed by a 72-22 vote and Pryor was confirmed 77 to 19. 

GOP Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Steve Daines (Mont.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Josh Hawley (Mo.), James Inhofe (Okla.), John Kennedy (La.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Todd Young (Ind.) voted against all three nominees. 

With three of Ex-Im’s five board positions filled, the bank can now meet the legally required quorum to approve transactions worth more than $10 million.

The confirmations of Reed, Bachus and Pryor is the latest swing in a four-year battle between a broad coalition of Ex-Im supporters and fiscally conservative critics over its existence.

The Ex-Im Bank was created in 1934 to subsidize U.S. exporters and manufacturers amid mounting global competition. The bank attracted little political fire until 2015, when a cadre of GOP lawmakers spurred by conservative groups successfully blocked a reauthorization of its charter.

President Trump had initially nominated former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), who was among the bank’s top House critics during the fight over its charter, to lead Ex-Im.

But after Senate Republicans rejected Garrett’s nomination, Toomey sought to block the confirmation of other Ex-Im nominees, preventing the bank from reaching full strength.

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and pro-business groups have rallied for restaffing Ex-Im, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Ex-Im advocates say the bank plays a crucial role in helping U.S. manufacturers compete against state-backed companies and protectionist trade policies, particularly in China.

The bank’s critics, including the Heritage Foundation and the conservative nonprofit Americans for Prosperity, say Ex-Im is prototypical crony capitalism that distorts markets and benefits major U.S. firms that do not need help.

The Ex-Im Bank’s future is still unclear despite the confirmation of three new members, with lawmakers facing a September deadline to reauthorize the bank’s charter.

Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, respectively, both support renewing the bank but could face obstacles from Toomey, Shelby and other Ex-Im critics.

Tags Ben Sasse Bernie Sanders Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Export-Import Bank James Inhofe James Lankford John Barrasso John Kennedy Josh Hawley Marco Rubio Marsha Blackburn Maxine Waters Mike Braun Mike Lee Pat Toomey Patrick McHenry Richard Shelby Scott Garrett Spencer Bachus Steve Daines Ted Cruz The Ex-Im Bank Todd Young

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