(Adds comment by Boeing spokeswoman, byline)
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON, July 21 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
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 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
"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
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell. Editing by Andre Grenon)