Kevin McCarthy, check your inbox.
On the morning Congress returns for its mad legislative sprint before the midterm elections, the House majority leader received a letter from the heads of Washington's two most aggressive conservative advocacy groups, ones credited with helping to spur the government shutdown of 2013: Chris Chocola of Club for Growth and Mike Needham of Heritage Action for America.
They want McCarthy to let the Export-Import Bank expire.
"The Export-Import Bank is a small thing, this we know," Chocola and Needham wrote. "But Leader McCarthy, if you can’t start with the Export-Import Bank, then how can Americans trust the Republican Party to tackle the big challenges our nation faces after six years of President Obama and his failed policies?" Funding for the Ex-Im Bank, which helps underwrite the sales of goods overseas, is due to lapse at the end of September. The institution's future has become a political lightning rod within the GOP over the past several months, with many Republicans calling it corporate welfare and others saying the bank's demise would adversely affect small businesses.
Though McCarthy indicated shortly after his election as majority leader this summer that he did not support continuing to float the Ex-Im Bank past its expiration date, dealing with the question of reauthorization couldn't come at a worse time for him or other Republicans on Capitol Hill, who are finding themselves torn between allegiances on the issue on the precipice of the elections.
Current speculation is that leaders will seek to move a short-term extension of the bank until after Election Day to buy members more time to hash out a long-term solution in what will likely be a politically toxic debate.
But that won't sit well with many lawmakers, not to mention Chocola and Needham, who would use every resource in their arsenal to thwart a "yes" vote should that gambit be brought to the floor.
Shortly after transmitting the formal letter to McCarthy, Heritage Action fired off a separate message to House members that it would key vote "no" on any piece of legislation that reauthorizes or extends, even in the short term, the Ex-Im Bank. That includes a scenario leaders are currently mulling, where a reauthorization or extension is dealt with in the same package as the stopgap spending bill Congress must pass to avoid another shutdown on Sept. 30.
Club for Growth did not follow up with a similar warning to lawmakers, but it typically does not announce key votes prior to the unveiling of legislative text. Signs indicate that it will take a similar position to that of Heritage Action.
Republicans on Capitol Hill say they don't want another government shutdown. And, in the year since Club and Heritage encouraged a shutdown over funding for the 2010 health law, GOP lawmakers have grown increasingly vocal in their frustrations with the groups' tactics. How Republicans deal with the issue in the 12 legislative days they have left before recessing until after the midterms will no doubt be a test of the outside groups' staying power and influence.
Chocola and Needham's full letter:
Dear Leader McCarthy,
As you know, authorization for the Export-Import Bank is set to expire on September 30th. On behalf of our respective organizations, we hope you will stand strong and work with conservatives in Congress and across the country in letting the bank expire.
We were greatly encouraged by your comments on Fox News Sunday on June 22nd, in which you stated that the Export-Import Bank is “something government does not have to be involved in. The private sector can do it.” You also quite explicitly answered “yes” to the question of whether or not you would allow the charter for the bank to expire.
As the new Majority Leader of the House, now is the time for you to provide leadership to the Republican conference and reaffirm your admirable opposition to the Export-Import Bank. In the past several months, the bank and the private corporations it benefits have launched an all-out public relations campaign to repair the bank’s image. This simply confirms what we have said all along – the Export-Import Bank is a crony-capitalist slush fund benefitting mainly politically-connected companies that receive its subsidies.
These export subsidies pick winners and losers in the free market and hurt companies here at home. That’s a fact. While a company like Boeing benefits from the vast majority of subsidies, companies like Delta are hurt by the benefit bestowed on their foreign competitors. Taconite miners in Minnesota and Michigan were hurt by export subsidies given to Caterpillar to send mining equipment to the richest woman in Australia.
Nearly every time the government interferes in the free market there is a negative consequence that hurts Americans of all stripes. Whether it is quotas on imported sugar, President Obama’s takeover of our health insurance system, or the renewable fuel standard, actions by politicians in Washington working with lobbyists on K Street have made life harder for everyone. In contrast, eliminating corporate welfare, passing pro-growth tax reform, reforming entitlements, and paying down the debt will raise the living standards of every American.
The Export-Import Bank is a small thing, this we know. But Leader McCarthy, if you can’t start with the Export-Import Bank, then how can Americans trust the Republican Party to tackle the big challenges our nation faces after six years of President Obama and his failed policies?
We hope you’ll take the coming weeks to stay true to your comments from June and affirmatively fight to end the Export-Import Bank. House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling has done great work exposing the bank, but he needs Leadership not just backing him up, but leading.
Chris Chocola, Club for Growth
Mike Needham, Heritage Action for America
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