WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank was left off a list of items that the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives expects his party to take up in September, raising new questions about the bank’s future.
The charter for the export credit agency is set to expire Sept. 30, and reauthorization is needed to allow Ex-Im to keep lending to buyers of U.S. exports.
The omission by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Ex-Im on a likely September agenda is a preview of yet another showdown between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans that could come this fall.
In a memo sent to House Republicans on Friday, McCarthy enumerated a likely September agenda including a jobs-related bill, an energy package and a healthcare measure. But renewal of the bank, which in addition to providing loans to purchasers of U.S. exports also provides insurance to banks that finance such deals, is not on the list.
There are ongoing discussions on Ex-Im Bank in the House Financial Services Committee, a leadership aide said, when asked about the memo.
McCarthy, who became majority leader after Virginian Eric Cantor lost his primary election, said in June he opposes renewing the institution’s charter.
Shuttering the bank has become a cause celebre for conservative Republicans, who see it as an example of government overreach that benefits big companies while putting taxpayers at risk should borrowers default.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling also opposes reauthorizing the bank, which would mean it would stop issuing new credits and might have to begin winding down its portfolio. Boeing (BA.N) , General Electric (GE.N), and Caterpillar (CAT.N) are big beneficiaries of the bank’s services.
President Barack Obama, most Democrats and business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers support the 80-year-old bank, which backed $37.4 billion of exports in 2013.
The bank’s prospects have looked up recently with the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the Senate to keep the bank open for another five years. Republican Representative Stephen Fincher is also proposing renewing the bank for another five years along with reforms that would rein in its lending.
Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Leslie Adler