Republican Reps Refuse To Take Sides In Ex-Im Battle

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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Dozens of Republican representatives are still refusing to take a position on the Export-Import Bank’s reauthorization less than a week before it expires.

The bank’s stated mission is to make it easier for U.S. businesses to export goods by providing financing deemed impossible or too risky by the market, with the goal of helping the U.S. economy. But critics say it amounts to international corporate welfare funded by U.S. taxpayers.

Congress voted overwhelmingly in favor of reauthorizing the Bank in 2012, but conservative opposition to the bank has reached new heights, and the bank’s future is very much in doubt.

The 170-member Republican Study Committee, 70-member House Freedom Caucus and 95 individual Republican representatives, including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and eight chairmen, have publicly stated opposition to the Ex-Im Bank. Most of the 2016 GOP presidential candidates have also taken a position against the bank. (RELATED: Rubio Courts The Kochs)

But with just four scheduled work days to bring a reauthorization measure to the House floor before the Bank expires June 30, more than 40 Republican representatives questioned recently by The Daily Caller News Foundation are still refusing to take a position on the Bank.

“That’s not a fit at this time,” a spokesman for Rep. Steve Pearce, who voted for the Bank’s reauthorization in 2012, told TheDCNF. Another representative who voted with him, Reid Ribble, has “no update or public statement at this time,” his spokeswoman told TheDCNF.

Most of the representatives questioned, who either voted for reauthorization in 2012 or who don’t yet have a record on the issue, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Several dodged the substance of the question by pointing out there is no bill to take a position on.

House Speaker John Boehner supports the Ex-Im and would bring a bill to the floor for a vote, but his hands are tied because the Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling is refusing to produce a bill. The Senate could try to send over a bill, but that’s unlikely given the time constraints and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to the Bank. (RELATED: Boeing CEO Refuses To Make Case For Ex-Im Before Congress)

Rep. Martha Roby voted to reauthorize in 2012, but a spokeswoman for Roby told TheDCNF her position is undecided until specific legislation emerges.

“Is there a specific bill you’re asking about?” a spokeswoman for Rep. Steve Womack (AR), who voted to reauthorize the bank in 2012, asked TheDCNF in response to the question. Asked again whether Womack supports or opposes reauthorization of the Bank, she reiterated the question: “So what is the bill number?”

A spokeswoman for Pete Olson (TX) also noted there is no plan to bring a bill up for a vote, but said he is concerned the Bank may primarily benefit big businesses and is “not convinced existing reforms go far enough.” Olson voted to reauthorize the Bank in 2012.

Newly elected Rep. Steve Russell (OK) has “serious concerns” and is “digging deep into the issue,” his spokesman told TheDCNF. Other new members Randy Weber (TX) and David Young (IA) also haven’t taken a position, their spokespersons told TheDCNF.

And new member Bruce Westerman (AR) told TheDCNF he needs specific legislation to consider and more time to work out his stance. “[T]o take a firm position on this issue before I have had adequate time to work through the legislative process, and make a rational decision would not be in the best interest of my constituents or our country’s future,” he said in an emailed statement.

The following did not answer the question or respond to multiple requests for comment:

Rick Allen (GA), Kevin Brady (TX), Dan Benishek (MI), Brian Babin (TX), Jim Bridenstine (OK), Mo Brooks (AL), Susan Brooks (IN), Vern Buchanan (FL), Larry Bucshon (IN), John Carter (TX), Carlos Curbelo (FL), Jeff Denham (CA), Bob Goodlatte (VA), Trey Gowdy (SC), Garret Graves (LA), Morgan Griffith (VA), Frank Guinta (NH), Brett Guthrie (KY), Will Hurd (TX), Robert Hurt (VA), John Kline (MN), Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Martha McSally (AR), Michael McCaul (TX), John Moolenaar (MI), Richard Nugent (FL), Bruce Poliquin (ME), Phil Roe (TN), Peter Roskam (IL), Dave Trott (MI), and Kevin Yoder (KS)

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