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Senate’s Latest Move Marks Win for Manufacturers With Ex-Im Bank

Failing to convince the Senate committee weighing his confirmation that his views on maintaining the Export-Import Bank had changed, Scott Garrett was rejected as President Trump’s choice to lead the Export-Import Bank.

The Export-Import Bank is the official export credit agency of the U.S. Ex-Im is an independent, self-sustaining Executive Branch agency with a mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services.

During the Great Recession, many textile firms turned to the bank for export financing when a slew of banks saw their credit facilities in turmoil.

The Senate Banking Committee voted 10 to 13 on Tuesday against advancing Garrett’s nomination to the full Senate, with two Republicans joining with 11 Democrats in opposition.

Garrett, who was a tea-party-aligned Republican congressman from New Jersey until he lost his re-election bid in 2016, faced intense opposition from the business community and many traditional GOP allies, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). That’s because Garrett once wanted to shutter the institution that he now is trying to run, and he consistently voted against reauthorizing it. In 2015, he called the Export-Import Bank an institution that “embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system.”

 

[Read more about the Trump administration: “Uncertainty” Over Trump Policies Makes Frenemies of Importers, Domestic Producers]

The bank noted in its mission statement that it fills in the gap for American businesses by equipping them with the financing tools necessary to compete for global sales. In doing so, the Bank levels the playing field for U.S. goods and services going up against foreign competition in overseas markets, so that American companies can create more good-paying jobs.

“Manufacturers are grateful to have an ally in the White House who seeks to ensure that America and its workers are not left behind as foreign governments do all they can to win in the global economy,” NAM president and chief executive officer Jay Timmons wrote in an October letter to Senate banking committee leaders. “At the same time, the NAM is firmly opposed to the nomination…Garrett as president of the Ex-Im Bank given his longstanding opposition to its mission and his past actions to destroy the agency.”

In his confirmation hearing before the committee last month, Garrett tried to convince senators that he turned over a new leaf. But many of them still seemed skeptical since he refused to say his previous denunciations were wrong. Instead, Garrett said he was no longer in favor of abolishing the bank because Trump is now president, and he simply wants to run it instead.

“Senator, if the question is, what has changed since 2015, what we have seen changed is a new administration,” Garrett said. “What we have seen change is a new agenda by this administration to see to it that the economy actually grows, and that businesses are given a fair chance to grow their businesses both nationally and internationally as well. …My role has changed. I am not in a legislative function.”

Sens. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, who joined with fellow Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina to vote against Garrett, said, “I believe he’s a principled man who simply believes in the abolishment of the bank. While I wish him no ill, I believe he’s not the right person to be the chairman.”

“Today’s Senate Banking Committee vote on Ex-Im board nominees is a milestone for manufacturers across the U.S. whose customers require a fully-functioning Ex-Im Bank,” said a GE spokesperson. “We urge the full Senate to move quickly on behalf of U.S. workers and companies of all sizes to guarantee the bank can once again operate at full strength.”

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