Senators struck a deal to stop the ongoing filibuster of President Barack Obama's executive branch nominees last week, cleared the way for Fred Hochberg's confirmation as chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank. Had the Senate not confirmed Hochberg by July 20, the bank would not have had a quorum to approve transactions, and therefore would not have been able to function as vibrantly as it has over the last several years.
Until last week, the Republican Senate minority had been holding up a number of President Obama's nominations for various agencies with the hope that by doing so they could extract concessions from the Senate Democratic majority. Among the most contentious targets of the filibuster was Obama's nomination of Richard Cordray to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act whose very existence is anathema to GOP.
Republicans had hoped to trade approval of Cordray's nomination, among others, for drastic changes to agencies and laws they opposed, but Democrats wouldn't budge. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) threatened to use the so-called "nuclear option" in order to allow nominees to be approved with a simple majority vote, rather than with the 60-vote threshold typically required by Senate procedure, but the bipartisan deal struck last week allows the GOP to continue filibustering future nominees, so long as they drop their filibuster on seven of the President's nominees, Cordray and Hochberg among them.
Hochberg's nomination wasn't nearly as controversial as Cordray's, as Ex-Im is a self-funding agency that remains far less noxious to the Republican Party than the CFPB, but its continued delay certainly posed a more imminent threat to the U.S. export economy. "Over the past four years, Ex-Im Bank's financing has supported nearly one million American jobs and helped thousands of small businesses expand their reach into international markets," Hochberg said upon his confirmation. "The Bank also delivered more than $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury during this period at no cost to American taxpayers."
- Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer