- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Senate panel voted Tuesday to reject President Trump’s nominee to run the Export-Import bank, undercutting conservatives who want to derail the corporate welfare agency and delivering another nomination failure to a White House plagued by them.

The Senate Banking Committee voted 13-10 against approving former Rep. Scott Garrett, with two Republicans breaking ranks because they didn’t think Mr. Garrett was committed to the agency designed to aid U.S. exporters.

Republican senators Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina joined every panel Democrat in voting against Mr. Garrett.

The White House said it was regrouping after the defeat, and said it wasn’t clear yet whether a new nominee would be sent up.

“That hasn’t yet been determined. We’re certainly very disappointed in the Senate Banking Committee — [it] missed an opportunity to get the Export-Import Banking fully functioning again, and we’re going to work with them to determine the next steps,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer told Mr. Trump the best way forward is to submit a nominee who will “actually fulfill” the bank’s mission.

“If there was ever somebody who didn’t belong at the helm of the Ex-Im bank, it was Scott Garrett,” Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, said. “With today’s bipartisan rejection of Mr. Garrett, millions of Americans whose jobs and small businesses rely on the bank can breathe a sigh of relief.”

Ex-Im, as the bank is known, provides guarantees for U.S.-based companies seek to finance export deals where conventional private-sector funding is not available.

Democrats and many Republicans say the obscure agency, a product of the New Deal, helps American companies remain competitive in the global marketplace, though conservative critics say it doles out corporate welfare for large corporations such as Boeing.

Those conservatives said Mr. Garrett, who lost his re-election bid last year, was going to be a reformer, getting Ex-Im streamlined. But manufacturers cheered his defeat.

“This agency, which has supported 1.4 million jobs over the past several years, is too important for manufacturers and our economy to be led by someone who has consistently tried to destroy it,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.

The Banking Committee did approve four other board members for the bank Tuesday, and Mr. Schumer said Republicans should speed those nominations to the floor in the meantime, so the bank can operate at full capacity.

David Popp, spokesman for Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, said Tuesday he didn’t have any “guidance or announcements” on the future of Mr. Garrett’s nomination or if the chamber will take up Ex-Im nominees that made it out of committee with bipartisan support.

At least two Senate Republicans had said they will try to prevent those nominees from advancing if Mr. Garrett went down, leaving the bank in flux as the White House plots a way forward.

Mr. Trump’s own stance on the bank has shifted. He dismissed it as “featherbedding” for politicians and huge companies that don’t need it during the campaign, but as president, he said he became convinced the U.S. needed Ex-Im in order to match other countries.

The about-face irked conservatives who had been fighting for years to see the end of the loan program, but they saw picking Mr. Garrett as the next best thing to shutting the bank down.

They had expected him to crack down on fraud and corruption, and to sharpen the bank’s priorities.

“The Senate Banking Committee’s decision to not move forward former Rep. Scott Garrett’s nomination to head the Ex-Im Bank is a major disappointment,” said Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government. “The ultimate corporate cronyism is when big corporations like Boeing succeed in defeating the president’s choice to run a bank that they are the major beneficiary of.”

The defeat was the latest black eye for Mr. Trump’s nominees. Three of his judicial picks have stumbled in the past week alone, as GOP lawmakers joined Democrats in questioning the fitness of people the president put forward.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide