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Conservatives Renew Attacks As Ex-Im Deadline Approaches

With just over a month left for Congress to act, conservative groups are stepping up opposition to Export-Import Bank re-authorization.

Club for Growth released a video Wednesday attacking Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren for her support of Ex-Im, suggesting it conflicts with her economic populism. The video contrasts examples of cronyism and corruption at Ex-Im with clips of Warren criticizing corporate welfare and the influence of large corporations.

“It’s shameful that someone like Elizabeth Warren, who has spent her entire career demonizing Wall Street and big corporations, is siding with them on the Export-Import Bank,” Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller told the Huffington Post.

The Mercatus Center released its own video on Sunday, but did not target the bank’s supporters directly. Instead, the Mercatus video focuses on making the case that Ex-Im does little more than pick winners and losers, and offers few if any benefits to the economy as a whole. (RELATED: Is the Export-Import Bank Crony Capitalism)

It claims, for instance, that the bank’s subsidies for Boeing exports “artificially raise the price of airplanes” for domestic airlines, thereby raising the cost of air travel for consumers.

Despite these and similar efforts — and the opposition of some prominent House Republicans — Congress still might pass a short-term extension of the Export-Import Bank’s charter this month, Tim Carney predicted in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner on Tuesday.

After the primary defeat of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, which some attribute to his strong support for Ex-Im, opposition to the bank has stiffened among Republican leaders. Even though “more than enough Republicans support renewal to give Ex-Im a majority in the House,” any bill to re-authorize Ex-Im is unlikely to originate there, Carney argued.

Cantor’s successor, California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, “made it clear he would not bring the bill to the floor unless it passed out of the House Committee on Financial Services.” That committee is chaired by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a strong critic of Ex-Im who has called the bank an example of “crony capitalism.”

Recalcitrance in the House could be rendered moot, however, if Senate Democrats pass their own authorization bill. Carney says that some Ex-Im opponents “fear the Senate will stick a five-year reauthorization of Ex-Im in the must-pass bill to keep the government funded,” forcing Republicans to choose between passing the extension and being blamed for a government shutdown. (RELATED: Democrats Rally Support for Export-Import Bank)

To head off that threat, House Republicans could pass a six-month extension of Ex-Im’s charter, allowing them to revisit the issue after the next Congress is sworn in. Carney believes this strategy could strengthen the GOP’s hand in the debate, because “Republicans have a decent chance of taking over the Senate in November’s election.”

Even if a short-term extension is passed, Carney admits that “there may not be enough votes to kill Ex-Im.” The delay would, however, create “an opportunity to introduce real reforms to trim Ex-Im’s sails.” (RELATED: Republicans Clash over Export-Import Bank)

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