Michigan lawmakers spar on reviving export subsidy bank
Washington — A bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers on Tuesday pushed through a bill to reopen the government agency that subsidizes U.S. exports, despite opposition from conservatives.
In a 313-118 vote, 127 Republicans joined 186 Democrats to reauthorize the Export Import Bank.
From Michigan, Republican Reps. Fred Upton of St. Joseph, Candice Miller of Harrison Township, Dan Benishek of Crystal Falls, John Moolenaar of Midland and Dave Trott of Birmingham voted in favor of reviving the bank, along with the delegation’s five Democrats.
Reps. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland; Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township; Tim Walberg, R-Tipton; and Mike Bishop, R-Rochester; voted no.
The charter of the Export-Import Bank, or “Ex-Im,” expired in July. The bank provides insurance and loan guarantees to foreign firms to help them purchase U.S. exports. Critics argue it mainly benefits large businesses.
The bank has helped support $10.1 billion in exports from Michigan since 2009, benefiting 192 firms in Michigan, including 143 small businesses, according to federal figures. Ford Motor Co. received a $250 million Ex-Im loan in 2010 to assist in the export 200,000 vehicles.
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, was among the Democrats who urged re-authorization of the Ex-Im charter during debate on the House floor Tuesday.
“The Ex-Im Bank used to be bipartisan legislation. It’s so interesting to hear the outrage expressed by members on the other side for a program that was supported repeatedly by President Ronald Reagan,” said Kildee, a member of the House Financial Services Committee.
“Where was your outrage then? I don’t recall the outrage back then because then it was fine.”
Huizenga has argued that fraud and mismanagement at Ex-Im is widespread, and that it costs the taxpayers too much money. On the House floor Tuesday, he said a culture of entitlement has grown up among the companies receiving financing from the bank.
“If we cannot tackle and take care of this entitlement mentality within the business community, how in the world are we going to have same moral standing to tackle that same entitlement mentality on the social side of our spending?” said Huizenga, who chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy.
“It’s sad to believe that some people think this is the only or the best program that we can put forward for the U.S. to remain competitive on the world stage.”
Amash, another vocal opponent of the Ex-Im bank, has called it “corporate welfare” and “cronyism at its worst,” saying it mostly subsidizes the exports of well-connected corporations.
“99.99% of U.S. small businesses pay taxes to support #ExIm yet receive zero benefits. This is cronyism at its worst,” he said Tuesday on Twitter.
Following the vote, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, said she hoped the Senate would act soon to reauthorize the bank, “so we can support our local businesses and the jobs they create.”