Editorial: Congress should not delay vote on Export-Import Bank
House Republican leaders are talking about a temporary reprieve for the vital Export-Import Bank, postponing debate until after the election. Better to get it over with.
Seattle Times Editorial
CALL it business as usual in Congress: A plan seems to be emerging from U.S. House Republican leadership to deal with the hot potato that is the Export-Import Bank — by not dealing with it anytime soon.
Republican leaders are talking about delaying debate until December, when Congress will be meeting in a lame-duck session, or maybe until next year, when an entirely new Congress will be seated. This is supposed to postpone a nasty argument that might damage GOP election prospects.
What is meant to pass for political wisdom in D.C. looks like gutlessness in this trade-dependent corner of the country, where the Export-Import Bank is vital to the health of the regional economy. It’s better for party leaders to get it over with. Let Republicans worried about adverse economic impact argue with those who see the bank as an affront to free-market ideology. And when the speeches are done, let the House take a vote.
Unless Congress acts, the 80-year-old Export-Import Bank will expire Oct. 1. Its survival is critical to Boeing, the biggest beneficiary of the bank’s services. Last year, the Ex-Im Bank provided about $7.9 billion in financing for commercial aircraft buyers in places like Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland and Slovakia. Smaller Washington manufacturers also benefit from their customers using the bank’s loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance — a total of 183 companies since 2007.
A temporary reauthorization is better than nothing, but months of uncertainty would give an advantage to foreign companies backed by similar export credit institutions. Already American firms are finding it hard to compete because financing may evaporate shortly, says U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia. He has 201 Democratic co-sponsors for a seven-year reauthorization bill. Add them to the 41 Republicans who signed a letter supporting the bank. That’s more than enough to pass the bill should it ever come to the floor.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, the House GOP’s conference chair, is the only Washington Republican who failed to sign the letter.
She also is the state’s only Republican in a leadership position. Maybe her fence-sitting has made political sense to this point, but now is the time for her to take a public stand for the bank and help end a factional debate that brings discredit to her party.
Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, Blanca Torres, Robert J. Vickers, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).