Big business is redoubling efforts to save the 80-year old Export-Import Bank with an aggressive lobbying campaign.
According to The Wall Street Journal
, corporations such as Boeing Co. and General Electric Co., and business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers, are pushing back against arguments by conservatives that the agency is akin to corporate welfare.
"There's a full inside-the-Beltway, outside-the-Beltway push," Christopher Wenk, senior director of international policy at the U.S. Chamber, told the Journal. "We're burning up shoe leather."
Supporters insist the agency is critical to job creation and U.S. economic competitiveness, and argue that without the support of the agency to extend credit and insure foreign exports, the country will lose out to its economic rivals.
More than 860 companies and business groups wrote a letter
last month calling on Congress to re-authorize the agency, and at a recent hearing the lobbying became personal when each lawmaker was given an index card identifying the companies in their districts that benefit from the financing agency and the number of people those companies employ, the Journal reported.
The business groups have also enlisted the help of bipartisan heavyweights such as former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt and former GOP Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.
Individual meetings this summer with lawmakers are also planned and a lobby firm has created a rapid response operation to fire back at critics through email and social media.
Employees have also been encouraged to contact their Congressional representatives, the Journal reported.
Those who oppose re-authorization, which is set to expire on Sept. 30, include Texas GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bank, and incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Conservative groups have also joined the effort against re-authorization, including Heritage Action for America, Club for Growth, and Generation Opportunity.
"Our conservative activists feel we're three months away from a huge win…The idea that could be snatched away, that won't sit well with the base," Heritage Action spokesman, Dan Holler, told the Journal.
During the 2013 fiscal year, the bank authorized $27 billion to support roughly $37.4 billion in U.S. export sales. As a result, the Treasury earned $1.06 billion from interest and fees.
The Obama administration and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid support reauthorization, and more than 40 GOP lawmakers wrote to House Speaker John Boehner to support it. Senate GOP lawmakers are lukewarm to the idea, the Journal previously reported.
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