Comparing it to a decade-old example of wasteful spending benefiting special interest groups, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, today criticized the controversial Export-Import Bank by calling it today’s “bridge to nowhere.”
“I would argue that special interest spending today is not earmarks. Special interest spending today is these cozy deals that big companies get with the government like the Export-Import Bank,” Jordan said at the monthly Capitol Hill gathering Conversations with Conservatives. “I would argue that the Export-Import Bank is the ‘bridge to nowhere’ example of special interest spending going on today.”
Those against the Export-Import Bank—including Jordan, a leading opponent—believe the bank helps a handful of large, politically connected corporations such as Boeing, Caterpillar and General Electric. Additionally, according to the bank’s records, approximately 40 percent of Ex-Im’s support benefits Boeing.
Specifically, those against the 80-year-old agency believe Ex-Im serves as an engine of corporate welfare and cronyism.
Supporters of the bank believe it creates jobs in the U.S. and helps small businesses compete in the global market.
Ex-Im provides taxpayer-backed loans and loan guarantees to foreign companies and countries for the purchase of U.S. products.
“I would argue that the Export-Import Bank is the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ example of special interest spending going on today,” said @JimJordan..
The “Bridge to Nowhere” was an earmark included in a 2005 highway funding bill that allocated more than $300 million for a bridge connecting Ketchikan, Alaska, to an airport on Gravina Island, home to just 50 people. The project cost taxpayers more than $300 million and later served as a prime example of wasteful earmarks used by lawmakers to benefit special interests.
In addition to Jordan, a number of top Republicans in the House have come out against the bank, including House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas—whose committee has jurisdiction over Ex-Im—and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Additionally, most of the 2016 Republican presidential contenders have signaled their opposition to its reauthorization.
“The chairman of the [Financial Services] Committee doesn’t want to reauthorize, the chairman of the Ways and Means committee doesn’t want it reauthorized. The Majority Leader [Kevin McCarthy] has said the same, the Majority Whip [Steve Scalise] has said the same,” Jordan said.
“Every outside conservative organization that I know of is opposed to it, and every presidential candidate is on record as saying it shouldn’t be reauthorized,” he continued. “And all we have to do is nothing. You tell me, when are the stars going to align up better for that position than now?”
Republicans are expected to gather for a meeting in the coming weeks to determine whether a majority of the party supports extending the bank’s life.
Hensarling hasn’t yet said if he will allow a bill reauthorizing Ex-Im to move through his committee, and Speaker Boehner’s office said the Texas Republican is leading discussions with members on the bank’s future.
Boehner and his fellow members of leadership could bring a bill reauthorizing the bank directly to the floor—bypassing Hensarling completely—but conservatives are warning against such action.
“It’s incumbent upon our leadership to allow the appropriate committees to work on this process, and if they decide as a committee that they’re not going to reauthorize, then they just need to let it go,” Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, said today.
For the embattled agency to end, which would lead to a winding down of its existing loans, Congress simply doesn’t have to act at all.
“It doesn’t get any easier than this,” Jordan said. “If we can’t do that much, then for goodness sake what good are we?”