While the Senate’s approval of the Export-Import Bank on Thursday night caused a lot of consternation among conservatives who were successful in shuttering it earlier in the year, turning the lights doesn’t necessarily mean the operation will resume.
That’s because the controversial agency lacks enough board members to approve of the larger loans that conservatives do not like. After the
The Senate approved a long-term highway and transportation bill by a bipartisan margin of 83-16, but attached a rider to revived the Ex-Im Bank as a way to grease the skids towards approval. The bank has been under fire by conservatives for sending risky loans to large corporations to do business with overseas businesses and consumers.
But, without a new board member for the Ex-Im Bank, companies like Boeing, General Electric and Ford Motor Company are unable to use the loan guarantees they have relied upon for 81 years.
President Barack Obama has already tapped former Ex-Im member Patricia Loui-Schmicker to return to the board, having nominated her in March, but the Senate committee has not held a nomination hearing. That’s likely because the chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) is opposed to the bank.
“It’s a real hang-up,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the ranking member on the committee. “This committee has gone the entire year without one vote on one nominee, I don’t think any other committee in the Senate has done that.”
An overwhelmingly large number of Congressmen and Senators have supported the Ex-Im Bank, but certain leaders – House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin being one of them – say it no longer helps the small businesses but instead large corporations that should not need government help. As a result, the bank’s charter expired in July and new applications could not be approved while current agreements were running its course.
Now that the bank will likely be revived with Obama’s expected signature, the Ex-Im board will need at least three active members to achieve quorum. Currenlty, the active members include Chair Fred Hochberg and Vice-Chair Wanda Felton. Loui-Schmicker would make quorum with the two remaining spots vacant until Republicans nominate and approve their choices. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has not named anyone for those positions, which comes as no surprise since he is also opposed to the Ex-Im Bank.