Ending the Export-Import Bank is a moral imperative for Republicans in the 114th Congress, said one of the Tea Party's top leaders.
According to The Hill
, Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham believes a move to end the Bank would be in keeping with conservative principles. The institution has been criticized by conservatives for being little more than a mechanism for corporate welfare designed to boost big business.
"The Tea Party is pro-market, not pro-business, and its primary contribution to the Republican platform has been a recognition of the distinction between the two concepts — a distinction that its donors would prefer to obscure," Needham wrote in a 7,200 word essay for National Affairs, according to The Hill.
"This is the starkest contrast between the grassroots and the party establishment, and it is best exemplified by the divide over reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank."
Most Republicans and Democrats support the bank, believing it to be fundamental to supporting U.S. businesses in developing markets and maintaining U.S. jobs.
The bank requires congressional re-authorization if it is to continue operations past June 30. In September, Congress passed a stopgap spending bill to extend the bank's charter until June.
The House Financial Services Committee has jurisdiction on the issue but the committee's chairman, Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, is one of the Bank's most vocal critics. While Tennessee GOP Rep. Steven Fincher has drafted a bill to give the Bank a five-year extension, it is unclear whether Hensarling would advance the bill, The Hill said.
"As the Tea Party sees it, if conservatives can't stand up for sound policy on 'easy' fights like these — despite their relative insignificance compared to issues like entitlement reform — the Republican Party is unlikely to have the fortitude to take on the greatest challenges the country faces," Needham wrote.
"More importantly, any party that contemplates cutting back welfare for needy individuals and families but embraces corporate welfare for the powerful lacks the moral authority to urge sacrifice of any sort."
Last month, Boeing senior vice president Tim Keating argued on behalf of the Bank during a speech to the Arlington County Chamber of Commerce. He noted that the Bank enjoys bipartisan support and the backing of a number of business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"This year despite its broad bi-partisan support — an up or down vote would produce large majorities in both chambers — a small group of ideologues and operatives put Ex-Im in their crosshairs again and nearly killed it by preventing a re-authorization bill from going through the House committee process," Keating said, according to The Hill.
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