Representative Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican who has been a key opponent of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, now supports a short-term extension of the bank’s mandate, opening the door to a temporary reprieve for the export lender, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday.
Boehner said after a meeting with Republican lawmakers that he was working with Hensarling, who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and “he thinks a temporary extension of the Export-Import bank is in order.”
Hensarling, an influential conservative, has been highly critical of the bank and has accused it of crony capitalism and favoring big business. He had proposed letting its mandate expire at the end of September – a prospect which is worrying many in the business community.
A temporary extension would remove the immediate threat of closure on Oct. 1, when the bank’s current mandate runs out.
It would not, however, resolve the heated political debate about the future of the bank, which underwrites loans and provides export insurance for U.S. companies and loans for foreign companies buying U.S. goods, ranging from Boeing planes to pickles and medical equipment made by small businesses.
Hensarling declined to answer questions about Ex-Im as he left the meeting, the first chance for lawmakers to check in with each other after a five-week summer recess that business lobbyists used to push the merits of the bank.
Others in attendance said new House majority leader Kevin McCarthy told lawmakers that Republican leaders were pushing for a “clean” motion to temporarily extend government funding this week but would allow a couple of additions.
“I assume they are Ex-Im and (terrorism insurance),” said Texas Representative Bill Flores, who said he would support a temporary reauthorization.
McCarthy “did say that the Democrats want to add a five-year extension of the Ex-Im bank, and his response was, ‘That ain’t going to happen,'” said Louisiana’s John Fleming.
A decision would have to be made on Tuesday on whether to include Ex-Im in a funding extension bill to be voted on Thursday, Flores said.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Krista Hughes and Emily Stephenson; Editing by Bill Trott and Leslie Adler)
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