- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer pleaded with a key Senate Republican Tuesday to reconsider his “frustrating” decision to block a nominee to the Export-Import Bank, arguing his blockade is holding back an agency that enjoys majority support from Congress.

A product of the New Deal, the bank known as “Ex-Im” financed the sale of U.S. goods overseas for eight decades until its charter lapsed last summer.

Conservatives said the bank disrupted the free market with “corporate welfare” and should die off, but Mr. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, and centrist Republicans made an end-run around House GOP leaders to revive the bank, which also received two-thirds support from the Senate.

Now, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby is refusing to consider J. Mark McWatters’ nomination to the board, saying the bank has outlived its usefulness and should unwind its remaining obligations.

The board has two sitting members and cannot approve transactions over $10 million unless it forms a quorum by obtaining a third member, meaning clients like Boeing can’t finance its bigger deals.

Mr. Hoyer said the vast majority of Capitol Hill lawmakers support a “vibrant, working Export-Import Bank.”

“To the extent that it is not working, it is undermining American jobs and America’s economy,” he said. “I would urge Sen. Shelby to remove his hold.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican who recommended Mr. McWatters to the White House, opposes the bank in principle but has also urged Mr. Shelby to proceed with the nominee.

“I’m not a supporter of Ex-Im Bank, but 65 senators were,” Mr. McConnell told reporters last week. “And I would hope the committee would report out the nominee, and if the committee reports out the nominee, I’ll be happy to take it up.”

Yet a series of outside conservatives groups have backed Mr. Shelby, who is seeking reelection this year.

“Advancing any nominee to the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors — and therefore making possible financing deals in excess of $10 million — would open the floodgates to billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies being doled out to some of the largest and most well-financed companies in the world,” Richard L. Ribbentrop, a senior vice president at the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, wrote this week in a letter to Mr. Shelby.

Club for Growth President David McIntosh extended similar kudos to Mr. Shelby last week and urged Mr. McConnell to let him “run his committee as he sees fit.”

This isn’t the first time that fights over Ex-Im have rattled the Senate GOP conference.

Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican running for president, raised eyebrows by accusing Mr. McConnell of telling a “flat-out lie” to the conference by saying there was no special deal to give Ex-Im supporters a vote on the bank.

Mr. McConnell said he had been clear about giving the bank’s supporters a vote, given its level of support in the chamber.

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