Ex-Im Faces New Threats after Cantor's Loss

Political observers were stunned after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his primary to Tea Party upstart David Brat, but the ensuing rearrangement of the House leadership in the wake of Cantor's departure could wind up being the bigger story, at least for advocates of international trade.

The House of Representatives elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to replace Cantor as the GOP Majority Leader. McCarthy is a staunch conservative but his political identity seemingly straddles the line between Tea Party stalwart and establishment Republican. Nonetheless, one of his top policy priorities has been to shutter the Export-Import Bank of the US (Ex-Im). In recent interviews the newly-elected Majority Leader has stated that he believes Ex-Im's charter should be allowed to expire, and that the Bank occupies a void that could easily be filled by the private sector.

A number of conservatives have leveled similar charges at the bank, arguing that it isn't the government's responsibility to function in a space where a workable private sector alternative exists and also that Ex-Im's activities operate as a form of corporate welfare for the nation's largest companies. Nonetheless, a number of typically lockstep conservative groups are lining up to support Ex-Im, whose mission has always historically been to operate and support export sales that private lenders wouldn't touch if their futures depended on it.

The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) earlier this week announced a coalition urging Congress to act swiftly to reauthorize Ex-Im before its charter lapses on September 30. "With Americans overwhelmingly focused on the need to create jobs and grow our economy, business owners are understandably perplexed by the inside-the-Beltway campaign against the Ex-Im Bank," said US Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue. "In particular, the thousands of small businesses that depend on the bank to be able to access foreign markets are stunned at the threat that Washington could let its charter lapse. However, we won’t let that happen."

- Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer

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