Does Speaker John A. Boehner want the House to vote to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank?
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., says yes. During his weekly pen and pad briefing with reporters on Wednesday, Hoyer let slip that he and the Ohio Republican have spoken several times about putting a bill on the floor to revive the bank's lapsed charter.
Hoyer wouldn't describe the conversations as "formal," and he stressed that Boehner had not said outright he supported moving legislation to restore full funding for the organization that finances the export of U.S. services and goods.
He did, however, say that he and Boehner had "a productive conversation" in July, before members departed for the August recess, that prompted Hoyer to walk away confident that Boehner was an ally.
"The speaker and I talk relatively frequently, and we talk about a lot of things, some of which are relative to the business of Congress and some of which are not," Hoyer said. "But I talked to the speaker in July, before we left [for recess]. He knows how strongly I feel about the Export-Import Bank being critically important and we had a positive conversation.
"[Boehner] didn't promise me to do X, Y or Z, didn't tell me he was going to do X, Y or Z," Hoyer continued, "but I, based upon my conversation with him, am hopeful that he will be bringing this bill to the floor in one form or another in the near future."
It's not entirely surprising that Hoyer should contend that Boehner supports reviving the agency, which hard-line conservatives pressured leadership to let expire in June on the grounds it constituted "corporate welfare."
Unlike Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise, Boehner has never permanently shut the door to the concept of reauthorization, though he has said the House would only consider it under two specific scenarios.
One is if Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, advances a reauthorization bill out of the Financial Services Committee, of which he is the chairman. But Hensarling is one of Congress' most vocal Ex-Im Bank opponents and has shown no signs of moving anything anytime soon. The other is if the Senate sends reauthorization language over to the House, in which case the chamber would vote on it through an open amendment process, which hasn't happened, either.
Perhaps Boehner's biggest hint about his stance came in late April, when he told reporters thousands of jobs would "disappear quickly " if the Ex-Im Bank were to expire. Bank supporters seized on the remarks as vindication, and just this week General Electric announced it would be moving 500 jobs outside the United States due to Congress' disinclination to restore full funding to the agency.
But if Boehner has anything else to say on the subject — something that would be particularly encouraging to Hoyer and other House Democrats — Boehner's spokeswoman Emily Schillinger wouldn't let on.
"The only commitment the Speaker has made is to give Chairman Hensarling the opportunity to amend any Senate-passed vehicle that may include Ex-Im," Schillinger told CQ Roll Call. "Chairman Hensarling asked the Speaker for this consideration and he agreed to it."
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