Conservative Critics Lobby For An Early End To Export-Import Bank

The U.S. Export-Import Bank now finds itself embroiled in controversy. New House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced his support for letting the bank's charter expire, and only days ago, news surfaced that four officials at the export credit agency are facing allegations of misconduct.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. The Export-Import Bank isn't something we hear about very often. But it's been around a long time, 80 years. It even has a nickname, the Ex-Im Bank. It was set up to help U.S. businesses sell their products overseas. Congress has to reauthorize the bank this fall. But some conservative Republicans say it's time to shut it down. And they were given a boost when the new House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy joined their cause. Here is NPR's Brian Naylor.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: At a House hearing today, Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling outlined all that is wrong with the Export-Import Bank in the eyes of its detractors, that it sends taxpayer dollars to economic competitors of the U.S., that its loan guarantees amount to crony capitalism and that its biggest beneficiaries are some of the biggest multinational companies.

REPRESENTATIVE JEB HENSARLING: Like Boeing, General Electric, Bechtel and Caterpillar. In fact, in 2013 over half of Ex-Im's financing went to a handful of Fortune 500 companies.

NAYLOR: The bank has been dubbed Boeing's bank because the jet manufacturer is its largest beneficiary. And the debate over the Ex-Im bank at times sounds like a showdown within the airline industry. Delta Airlines for instance, opposes Boeing getting U.S. help to sell its jets to overseas carriers because those carriers can then compete with Delta, which gets no subsidies. Delta CEO Richard Anderson.

RICHARD ANDERSON: What the Ex-Im is doing is putting our employees in the crossfire because it's U.S. airline jobs that are lost when heavily subsidized foreign-owned airlines are able to then also get a subsidy from our treasury.

NAYLOR: Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg says Boeing's largest competitor, European owned Airbus, would love to see the Ex-Im bank shut down.

FRED HOCHBERG: They would be cheering because frankly, it will not change the amount of airplanes coming into the United States carrying passengers. It'll simply change whether they're made in the United States by Boeing and their 15,000 suppliers, 6,600 are small businesses, versus being made in Toulouse, Hamburg and other places.

NAYLOR: The bank's defenders, including many other Republicans, say it's not just big companies, but that many small businesses would be hurt without the banks help. The Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business groups are ramping up their efforts to lobby for renewal. Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.

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