A group of 40 conservative lawmakers collectively known as the House Freedom Caucus have come out in opposition to the controversial Export-Import Bank, joining Republican presidential candidates and a legion of conservative groups speaking out against the agency’s reauthorization.
“The Ex-Im Bank financially supports less than 2 percent of U.S. exports and supports mega-corporations at the expense of small businesses—literally picking winners and losers among American workers,” the House Freedom Caucus said in a statement. “Its daily operations and its core mission do not align with free market principles. It is clear it cannot be fixed.”
Calling the bank the “bridge to nowhere” of corporate welfare, the group argued Ex-Im has failed to comply with reforms mandated in Congress’ previous reauthorizations and noted that there are still 31 open fraud investigations at Ex-Im.
In addition to the fraud investigations, one former loan officer at the agency, Johnny Gutierrez, was indicted and pled guilty to accepting bribes on 19 different occasions between 2006 and 2013. His criminal charges—and the possibly for more indictments in the remaining fraud cases—have been cited multiple times by lawmakers opposing Ex-Im’s reauthorization.
“Its daily operations and its core mission do not align with free market principles. It is clear it cannot be fixed,” said House Freedom Caucus members of #ExIm.
“[Ex-Im] is a classic example of crony capitalism,” the House Freedom Caucus said.
The caucus also pushed House Republican leadership to refrain from bringing a bill reauthorizing the bank directly to the House floor.
Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, told The Daily Signal that House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas and his committee are continuing to lead discussions with Republican members on the issue.
Hensarling’s committee maintains jurisdiction over the 80-year-old agency, which provides taxpayer-backed loans and loan guarantees to foreign countries and companies for the purchase of U.S. products.
Ex-Im’s charter expires June 30, and policymakers are currently embroiled in a debate over whether to reauthorize it. Despite the concerns cited by the House Freedom Caucus and many other bank opponents, supporters believe it supports jobs in the U.S. and helps small businesses compete globally.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, serves as chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and has been one of the bank’s more outspoken opponents. The group, which launched earlier this year, currently has approximately 40 members and bills itself as a caucus of House Republicans working to give a voice to “countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them.”
Members include Reps. Raúl Labrador of Idaho, John Fleming of Louisiana, Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Matt Salmon of Arizona.
In addition to members of the House Freedom Caucus, a number of top Republicans have spoken out against reauthorizing Ex-Im. Two members of Republican leadership—House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise—said this month they oppose the bank. Scalise told CQ Roll Call on Monday Ex-Im was “on track” to expire.
Additionally, Hensarling and Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have both called on Congress to allow Ex-Im’s charter to expire.
A number of Republican presidential contenders have also joined the chorus of GOP policymakers in advocating for Ex-Im’s end. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, along with Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, have all voiced their opposition to its reauthorization.
The Republican Study Committee, which the House Freedom Caucus is a complementary group of, has not yet taken an official position on the bank’s reauthorization.