With the Export-Import Bank's charter now expired for two months and counting, pro-Ex-Im businesses are putting new pressure on the House Republicans behind the effort to shut down the federal credit agency.
General Electric has dropped Dallas from a list of prospective sites for a new corporate headquarters as punishment for some Texas lawmakers who oppose the bank, Bloomberg News recently reported . That retribution, meant to embarrass Republicans — most notably Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a Dallas conservative who is probably Ex-Im's greatest enemy in Congress — isn't exactly being shrugged off.
Hensarling spokesman Jeff Emerson told CQ Roll Call on Monday that, "Most companies base important decisions like this on low taxes, a skilled workforce, a fair legal system and quality of life, which is why everyone knows there is no better state to do business in than Texas."
"But if they are really basing their decision on the fact that members of the state's congressional delegation are opposed to one small federal agency," the spokesperson continued, "then they are going to have to bypass pretty much every state, including Georgia."
(Georgia was most likely singled out because Atlanta is said to be on the list of potential sites for a new GE headquarters.)
Hensarling may only have a small slice of Dallas in his district, but the GE slight seems aimed at punishing the Financial Services chairman for his persistent and powerful opposition to Ex-Im.
For years, Hensarling has led the charge against the export-credit agency, whose charter expired on June 30. But it's been a recent development that businesses and political groups start going after Ex-Im opponents.
GE has stopped giving to a number of lawmakers who are opposed to Ex-Im, most notably: Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The same can be said for Boeing, which is the biggest direct beneficiary of Ex-Im.
Other groups are taking an even more aggressive approach, trying to seemingly punish all members of Congress until the bank is reauthorized. The National Association of Manufacturers has halted all political fundraisers to "prioritize" its resources to getting the Ex-Im Bank reauthorized. Those postponed fundraisers will take dollars away from members who support Ex-Im, which might motivate those members to pressure their anti-Ex-Im colleagues — and GOP leadership — to support a vote on the embattled credit agency.
GE's decision to avoid Dallas drew mixed reactions from the representatives most directly affected.
Democrat Marc Veasey, who represents some parts of West Dallas, said he was "deeply disappointed that House Republicans have again chosen partisan politics over improving the lives of our hard-working middle-class families.
"General Electric’s decision to not relocate their headquarters to Dallas means a loss of tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and is a devastating blow to our local economy," Veasey said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.
An aide for Republican Kenny Marchant, who represents a small sliver of North Dallas, told CQ Roll Call that Marchant opposes Ex-Im and would associate himself with the statement from Hensarling's office that Texas is a great place to do business.
The office of Republican Rules chairman Pete Sessions, who has supported Ex-Im in the past, declined comment, and a request for comment from the office of Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson, who represents most of South Dallas, went unanswered.
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