U.S. congressman raps Boeing, trade group on Ex-Im bank

WASHINGTON Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:00pm EDT

Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) questions financial regulators about the effects of the Volcker Rule on employment in Washington on February 5, 2014.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) questions financial regulators about the effects of the Volcker Rule on employment in Washington on February 5, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Republican House committee chairman scolded Boeing Co and a large U.S. trade group on Monday for lobbying to keep the Export-Import Bank alive, saying their efforts amounted to petitioning for "special privilege."

Representative Jeb Hensarling wrote a scathing letter to Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, and James McNerney, chairman of Boeing, referring to reports they were visiting lawmakers to promote the reauthorization of the bank.

The 80-year-old bank promotes exports by offering financing to foreign buyers of U.S. goods, helping some major companies such as Boeing to compete internationally.

But Hensarling, a conservative Republican, said the bank's activity amounts to favoring multinational companies at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. The financial services committee he leads has jurisdiction over the bank, and Hensarling is trying to stop Congress from renewing its charter when it expires on Sept. 30.

"I respect your constitutional right to petition your government for the redress of grievances," Hensarling wrote to Timmons and McNerney. "I just wish you had used the occasion to petition for opportunity instead of special privilege."

Timmons and McNerney could come to see him on Capitol Hill as long as they were not promoting policies for taxpayer subsidies, in which case "a meeting would probably not prove to be a good use of our time," Hensarling said in the letter, which his office provided to Reuters.

A NAM spokesman defended the group's position, saying: "The NAM continues to be committed to manufacturers, their families and the communities they serve and protecting them by making sure the Ex-Im Bank is reauthorized."

A Boeing spokeswoman said the company had not received a letter from Hensarling, but that the Ex-IM bank was "vital" to Boeing's ability to compete successfully.

"We believe there exists a clear majority in Congress that supports the continuation of the U.S. Ex-Im Bank," she said.

Ex-Im bank supporters say that, in addition to helping big companies such as Boeing, it helps thousands of small U.S. businesses with trade credit insurance or loan guarantees. They argue that other countries do more to support their exports.

Last year, Ex-Im's loans backed $37.4 billion of U.S. exports and supported 205,000 U.S. jobs, the bank has said.

The bank used to be fairly uncontroversial, but growing opposition among Republicans has cast doubt on its future. The incoming House Republican majority leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy, has said he also thinks it should expire. The Democratic-run Senate is more favorably disposed, but Majority Leader Harry Reid has not set a vote on the issue.

Hensarling said that, while the bank might be helping some companies, it costs jobs at others, and he does not buy the argument that it levels the playing field with other countries.

"Over 98 percent of U.S. exports are financed successfully without Ex-Im and taxpayer backing," he wrote. "So I do not find the argument that 'Everyone else is doing it, so must we' to be particularly persuasive."

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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Comments (4)
SunnyDaySam wrote:
Just remember: Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) was in office the whole bush/GOP ‘lost decade’ when they crashed our economy. He’s just another short-sighted Republicon with no solutions to anything, especially on economic matters.
fyi; Ex-Im benefits not only large businesses like Boeing and Caterpillar, but thousands of their small-business suppliers and contractors. The GOPers conveniently neglect to mention that fact.

Jul 22, 2014 9:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
GetToTheTruth wrote:
The Republicans in the House are trying to shut down the eighty year old United States Import Export Bank. An institution which supports thousands of jobs at small U.S. businesses which are suppliers to the large U.S. corporations which export their products abroad. And, the Republicans are attempting to shut down this job supporting bank while the U.S. is still recovering from the effects of the Great Recession.

Just look in the eyes of Republican Jeb Hensarling and you can see what kind ideologues are in control of our U.S. House of Representatives.

Jul 22, 2014 5:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Simkatu wrote:
The Export Import bank makes Americans money. It’s not a taxpayer subsidy. It’s a profitable bank.

Jul 23, 2014 1:38am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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