Cantwell, Murray to Boehner: Man Up and Let House Vote on Ex-Im Bank

By:  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Joel Connelly
Source: Seattle Pi

The reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, long vital to Boeing’s foreign jet sales, would sail through the U.S. House of Representatives if House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders would permit it to come to a vote.

House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Washington.  They have resisted strong, Senate-passed Violence Against Women Act bill, but appear resigned to letting it pass.R-Wash., Republican leaders in the House

House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Washington. They have backed off from support for renewing the U.S. Export Import Bank, which provides vital support for U.S. exports.

The 80-year-old Ex-Im bank becomes history on Oct. 1 if Congress does not renew its charter, as it has done 15 times with bipartisan support. And 41 House Republicans, including three of four GOP members from Washington, have signed a letter urging renewal.

But Ex-Im has become a target of the Tea Party, and knees are quaking since House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his Republican primary last month.

On Tuesday, U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., plus Rep. Denny Heck, sent a blunt message to Boehner: Man up and allow the House to vote on something you have always supported in the past. They wrote:

“Throughout the bank’s 80-year history, which includes 15 separate charter reauthorizations, Republicans and Democrats have offered strong, often unanimous support for this critical institution.

“We see no reason for members of either party to waver in their support and we are confident that a reauthorization vote would pass the House once again with strong bipartisan support.”

The Ex-Im Bank has supported $233 billion worth of commerce in the past seven years. The bank finances or insures the purchases of U.S. manufactured products abroad.

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Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., argues that Ex-Im Bank supports not only Boeing jet sales but helps 64 small Washington businesses develop markets abroad.

Boeing is one of its biggest users, although Cantwell and Murray have taken pains to emphasize that a multitude of small exporters in Washington — and 98 small businesses in Boehner’s Ohio, as they reminded the speaker — benefit from its guarantees.

“When last reauthorized, Ex-Im was unanimously supported by the Washington state delegation, both Republicans and Democrats,” Cantwell, Murray and Heck wrote.

One member of Washington’s delegation has wavered. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who chairs the House Republican Conference, has backed off from support and called for unspecified “reforms” in the Ex-Im Bank.

“I know some have suggested this is corporate welfare. I’m asking myself this very question,” McMorris Rodgers told the Spokesman-Review last week.

A practiced dispenser of Republican sound bites, McMorris Rodgers can also sense political winds in the Republican caucus. Incoming House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has said he is willing to let the Ex-Im Bank expire.

What would be lost? Cantwell, Murray and Heck had an answer for Boehner:

“3,413 small businesses exported $37.4 billion of goods and services with the support of Ex-Im last year; these exports, in turn, supported 205,000 export related jobs in 2013, all the while the Bank returned $1.057 billion to the U.S. Treasury.

“An agency that reduces the deficit, supports a level international playing field for U.S. companies and supplies hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country is an agency that deserves robust support from Congress.”

Hopefully, they cc’d McMorris Rodgers on the letter.