House GOP to Extend Export-Import Bank Authority

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday the House will extend the authority of the Export-Import Bank this month and it may be done as part of a government-wide funding bill needed to prevent a shutdown at month’s end.

The Ohio Republican told reporters that even a powerful foe of the bank, Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, believes a temporary extension is in order.

The bank, which helps finance foreign purchases of U.S. exports, has badly divided Republicans, with many conservatives favoring letting its charter expire. But it has widespread support from Democrats and traditional pro-business Republicans.

A short-term renewal of the bank’s charter would give lawmakers more time to try to forge a consensus on whether to pass a long-term extension of the bank while overhauling its powers.

“I’m working with Chairman Hensarling. He thinks a temporary extension of the Export-Import Bank is in order,” Boehner said. “Whether it’s a separate issue or in the (spending bill) is yet to be decided.”

GOP aides said it appeared likely that the bank’s charter would be extended until June or so and that it would advance as part of the temporary spending bill.

The bank provides loans, credit insurance and loan guarantees to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. exports. It helped finance $37 billion in exports last year. Critics say too much of the help benefits large corporations like Boeing. Some U.S. businesses, including airlines, say the bank effectively subsidizes foreign competitors.

Hensarling, in a recent statement, said the bank provides “foreign corporate welfare that advantages a handful of powerful, politically-connected corporations.”

Supporters of the bank say its financing of exports helps create jobs and that its help isn’t limited to Fortune 500 corporations.

Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said he opposes reauthorizing the bank, but wants to avoid a potential government shutdown and so is open to the possibility of a short-term extension if the ultimate aim is to close the bank.

“I’m going to keep an open mind about it,” Fleming said. “I think it’s a good idea not to make it an election-year issue, but on the other hand I definitely oppose it, the reauthorization.”