The chairman of aircraft manufacturer Boeing said Thursday he thinks Congress will move to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which helps U.S. companies sell their products abroad. One day later, Boeing and the bank’s proponents found they’ll soon lose a key congressional supporter, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
The Export-Import Bank provides taxpayer-guaranteed loans to foreign entities to buy American goods. For most of its history, Ex-Im has received little attention, but in recent years the bank has been targeted by conservative Republicans, who believe it provides unfair corporate welfare. Over the summer, conservatives in the House of Representatives successfully blocked votes to reauthorize the bank and allowed its charter to expire.
On Friday, Boehner announced that he will resign his seat at the end of October. He is believed to support reauthorizing the bank. In April, Boehner warned that failing to extend Ex-Im’s charter could cost the United States “thousands of jobs.” That message has been echoed by U.S. exporters that rely on Ex-Im loans.
According to The Hill, Ex-Im supporters believe Boehner’s departure offers them a chance to renew the bank’s charter, as he no longer has to cater to the party’s conservative wing. But that will have to happen soon: Boehner’s likely successor, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., opposes reauthorizing Ex-Im.
"Speaker Boehner's resignation adds urgency that we need to finish this," Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., who introduced a bill Friday to reauthorize the bank, said.
The Boeing Co.’s chairman, W. James McNerney Jr., recently said it’s “inevitable” that his company will move jobs offshore if Congress fails to renew the bank. His company, the nation’s biggest exporter, relies greatly on Ex-Im to help sell its aircraft. Boeing was the top beneficiary of Ex-Im financial assistance in 2013, to the tune of more than $8 billion, and the company’s lobbyists have been pressing lawmakers to reauthorize the bank.
Other companies supported by Ex-Im loans include Caterpillar and General Electric -- the latter of which produces aircraft in Cincinnati near Boehner’s district. Both companies have lobbied Congress to renew the bank.