TIME Congress

Koch Brothers Battle Against Export-Import Bank Heats Up Again

From Left: David Koch and Charles Koch
AP; Getty Images From Left: David Koch and Charles Koch

Business lobbyists won the last round, but conservative activists plan to up the pressure later this year

The conservative war over the Export-Import Bank is heating up again.

A federal lending arm of the U.S. government aimed at boosting exports with subsidized credit has long been a target of conservatives, who nearly prevented its reauthorization last year. Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a group backed by the Koch Brothers, is re-launching its effort Monday to end the bank when its charter expires at the end of June.

Backed by a six-figure digital ad buy, as well as efforts to organize a conservative coalition, the group is trying to put a stop to what it terms “cronyism and corporate welfare.” Already several Republican presidential candidates oppose its reauthorization, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, as well as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

“The Ex-Im Bank puts billions of taxpayer dollars at risk to subsidize some of the world’s largest, most well-connected companies at the expense of hard-working American taxpayers,” said Freedom Partners president Marc Short. “Congress should take a stand against corporate welfare and allow this bank to expire. The expiration of Ex-Im is a central focus of Freedom Partners and will be a key test for lawmakers who claim to want to tackle the big problems.”

But the bank maintains the support of much of the GOP’s establishment wing, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as many Democrats and the White House. Among other loan guarantees, the Ex-Im Bank has heavily subsidized the sale of Boeing aircraft overseas, which the company says helps it compete with Airbus, which is backed by several European governments.

The new Freedom Partners websitewww.eximexposed.org—includes shareable info-graphics highlighting controversial Ex-Im investments, as well as a roster of Republicans who have come out against reauthorizing the bank.

The bank’s charter was extended for nine months in September as part of a stop-gap funding measure for the federal government, but the absence of a shutdown threat could give Ex-Im critics more leverage in the coming months to overhaul or wind down the bank. And for Republican candidates who have yet to weigh in on the subject, the influence of billionaire GOP mega-donors will make support for the bank all the more difficult.

The Freedom Partners video:

TIME Congress

House Republicans Promise No Government Shutdown Drama This Fall

Lawmakers are expected to vote on a bill to keep the government afloat on Thursday

House Republicans are looking to avert another government shutdown this fall, as an end-of-month deadline to pass a spending bill approaches with memories of last year’s shutdown—and the political damage it did—still fresh.

Fresh off a five-week recess, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that the chamber will introduce a short-term bill to keep the government funded, setting up a vote on the floor for Thursday. The measure is expected to run through the November midterm elections and into mid-December.

Republicans are still ironing out a few things, including how to reauthorize the Export-Import bank—which provides loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to help foreigners purchase U.S. goods—before its charter expires Sept. 30. Some conservative lawmakers loathe the bank as government intervention in the market. But House Speaker John Boehner indicated Tuesday that reauthorizing Ex-Im will not pose a problem, and said that House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a fierce opponent of the bank, understands that “a temporary extension of the Export-Import bank is in order.”

“Ex-Im is not the biggest issue this nation faces today,” said Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas). “It is an agency, which in principle I do not support, but it is not worth having a big fight today. The American people don’t want us to imperil the stability of the federal government today over Ex-Im.”


Jim DeMint: Bank Reveals Washington’s ‘Rot and Corruption’

Jim DeMint
Cliff Owen—AP Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference annual meeting in National Harbor, Md. on March 8, 2014.

The conservative leader talks to TIME about the relevancy of the Tea Party and why conservatives hate the Export-Import bank

Jim DeMint, the former South Carolina senator and influential conservative leader, has made a risky bet.

While he was once focused on the President’s well-known and unpopular health care law, DeMint, who today leads the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think thank, has now picked a far more obscure target: the 80-year-old Export-Import bank, a little known financial institution that Congressional conservatives would like to see shut down when it is up for reauthorization in September.

Last year, the bank financed the purchase of more than $37 billion of American exports. DeMint would like the bank, which he calls “socialist,” to become a top target for Republicans this fall.

“Certainly there are issues of more long-term fiscal importance, but [there are] few issues that reveal the rot and corruption of Washington more clearly than this,” DeMint says.

Conservative leaders, including the leaders of the anti-tax Club for Growth, Tea Party-supporting FreedomWorks and Heritage’s political arm Heritage Action, have all called for the expiration of the bank’s charter at the end of September. This would block the bank from backing new loans. Earlier this year at the Heritage Foundation, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a potential candidate for the next House Speaker, called the reauthorization of the bank a “defining issue” for the GOP.

Republicans are divided over the bank’s future, but there is enough Republican support in both chambers of Congress to reauthorize the bank’s charter, according to a TIME analysis. The pro-buisness Chamber of Commerce has heralded the bank for supporting 200,000 jobs while reducing the deficit without raising taxes (it charges fees for its services). While DeMint, Hensarling and other conservatives call the bank a prime example of crony capitalism and corporate welfare, the Chamber notes that small- and medium-sized businesses account for more than 85% of Ex-Im’s transactions.

In an interview with TIME, DeMint described why conservative groups like his own are making such a great deal over a little-known bank.

Is there any issue greater than Ex-Im on the minds of conservatives today?

Certainly there are issues of more long-term fiscal importance, but [there are] few issues that reveal the rot and corruption of Washington more clearly than this. Ex-Im issues taxpayer-subsidized loans for the politically connected that are rife with cases of fraud and waste. It’s symptomatic of so much that is wrong with Washington. It’s not necessary. It’s expensive. It puts taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars. It threatens American jobs, and it should be ended.

Conservatives believe in opportunity for all and favoritism to none. Ex-Im exists to provide subsidies to some of America’s biggest corporations. It has led to allegations of kickbacks and bribes, with over 70 documented cases of corruption in recent years. Allowing the bank’s charter to expire could build momentum for even greater reforms.

We can safely assume the Democratic-controlled Senate will include Ex-Im funding in their end of the year spending package. Would you prefer House Republicans shut down the government or pass the bill with the Ex-Im funding?

I don’t assume anything about what Congress will do on Ex-Im, but what is clear is that this is terrible economic policy that should end. Economists across the political spectrum acknowledge that subsidies, in general, and Ex-Im, in particular, do more harm than good. The vast majority of U.S. exports—98 percent—do not receive any assistance from Ex-Im, and America does not need to adopt socialist policies to compete with Europe or any other countries.

Would you support House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy if he allows a vote and Ex-Im passes, even if McCarthy himself opposes the bill?

If leaders in both parties put more focus on taxpayer concerns than special interest lobbyists, it’s an easy call to end this corporate welfare. It was refreshing to hear a newly appointed leader like Mr. McCarthy join with Americans opposed to wasteful government programs. Our focus is on better policy, not politics. Allowing the Ex-Im charter to expire and ending the unnecessary subsidies to major corporations is sound policy.

If you were still in the Senate and you saw Republicans take back the chamber in the midterm elections, would you vote for Senator Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader?

That’s a decision for politicians. At Heritage we’re focused on developing policies that improve the lives of all Americans regardless of party.

Would you prefer to see Rep. Jeb Hensarling or Rep. John Boehner as Speaker of the House?

These are decisions for members of Congress. Jeb is a strong conservative who should be applauded for leading on so many issues that put the interests of taxpayers ahead of special interests.

Do you believe the President should be impeached, as former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has advocated? Do you agree with the House Republicans’ choice to sue the Obama Administration over delaying the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate?

We’ve not called for impeachment, but Congress and the public are right to be deeply troubled by President Obama’s blatant disregard of the law. Time and time again, he has simply ignored laws he doesn’t like. Any suit by the House of Representatives relating to this misconduct would certainly face procedural hurdles, but there’s a strong case to be made if a judge were to reach the merits of a challenge.

Why is the GOP establishment winning in most of the primary races this year? Has the influence of the Tea Party peaked?

Heritage is not involved in elections and doesn’t endorse candidates. Conservatives want sound policies, and a vibrant debate helps to lead us there. The grassroots push to make Washington listen to the needs of Main Street instead of Wall Street have been a very helpful part of that debate. Tea Party groups have certainly given a voice to concerns shared by a majority of Americans about Washington’s wasteful spending and debt, and they’ve had an enormously positive impact since 2010.

Will there be a conservative backlash to the Highway Trust Fund agreement reached by House Republicans and the President?

The highway program taxes drivers in all states and then diverts a huge amount of the revenue to boutique projects, like mass transit, in a few favored states. It should instead be focused on maintaining actual highway infrastructure—roads and bridges—throughout the country. The most efficient and effective means of doing just that is to keep gas tax revenues in the states, and allow states to decide spending priorities. Instead of bailing out mismanaged and wasteful Washington programs, we should be moving more dollars and decisions to the states where there’s more accountability.

MONEY The Economy

The Capitalist Argument for Renewing the Export-Import Bank

While this bank is a government agency, it levels the global playing field and promotes U.S. jobs.

Having excoriated big-government liberals and tax raisers, the Tea Party has now set its sights on the Export-Import Bank.

To the anti-government Tea Party movement, the bank is just one more government intrusion into things that private parties can do for themselves.

Created in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Export-Import Bank is a U.S. government agency that lends money to foreign buyers to help them purchase our airplanes, computers, and other goods and services. Since 1945, its charter has been subject to periodic renewal by Congress. The latest renewal runs out in a couple of months.

In the vast majority of cases, the loans are paid back in full, with interest. Last year the default rate on loans the bank made was about 0.2%. The bank earned about $1.06 billion for the federal Treasury.

The bank is not supposed to compete with private lenders; therefore, it specializes in higher-risk loans that private institutions are unlikely to make. Over the years it has financed many large projects, including the Pan American Highway that runs from Alaska to Chile. It was involved in the Marshall Plan after World War II, and in the rebuilding of former Soviet countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Who Benefits?

The purpose of the bank is not primarily to help the countries to whom money is lent. It’s to enable them to buy our goods and services, and therefore to create jobs in the U.S.

Between now and September, the reauthorization deadline, the Tea Party will be arguing that the main beneficiaries in the U.S. are big companies that don’t need help.

When you look at the organizations now lobbying for a renewal of the Export-Import Bank, it might appear that the Tea Party has a point there.

Among the organizations that have been speaking up on behalf of the bank are Boeing, General Electric, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

At this moment, the battle is too close to call. In the Senate, sentiment appears to favor renewal of the bank’s charter. In the House, there is a good chance that the majority will vote for its abolition.

Competitive Landscape

My biggest disagreement with the Tea Party here is that it doesn’t make sense to be an ideological purist and think only in terms of the U.S.

Foreign companies such as Airbus receive a variety of subsidies to help them compete internationally. The Export-Import bank provides an indirect subsidy to U.S. manufacturers, helping their customers afford our goods and services.

Why should the Tea Party attack an institution that evens the playing field, helps to create jobs in the U.S., and makes money for the Treasury?

Harry Reid (D., Nev.), the Senate majority leader, is talking about a short-term reauthorization of the bank, tied to a bill that would fund the government past September 30 — again, for the short term.

A more statesmanlike solution, I’d say, would be to extend the bank’s charter for at least another three years, as Congress has done 16 times before. The most common extension period has been five years. That’s what the administration has asked for this time, and that’s what Congress should do.

John Dorfman is chairman of Thunderstorm Capital LLC, a Boston money-management firm. He can be reached at jdorfman@thunderstormcapital.com.

TIME Congress

Export-Import Bank Wins Enough GOP Support for Passage

Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images US Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, talks to reporters after a closed meeting on Iraq and Afghanistan on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on July 8, 2014.

Vote count makes clear business-friendly Republicans can beat back conservatives

An obscure government bank loathed by conservatives but backed by business now has enough Republican support to win reauthorization before it expires this fall, according to a TIME vote count.

The fight over the Export-Import bank—which provides billions of dollars in loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to help foreigners purchase U.S. goods.—has divided small-government conservatives and more business-friendly establishment Republicans, with one top conservative even calling it a “defining issue” for the GOP. But after months of uncertainty, a sufficient number Republicans in both the House and Senate support reauthorization—if House leaders allow a vote to come to the floor.

Of the 23 current Senate Republicans who voted to extend the charter in 2012, five members—Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)—have indicated publicly or to TIME that they support the bank. Freshman Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) supports the bank, as does Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who did not vote on the 2012 legislation but is working with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) on a bill to reauthorize its charter. Assuming all 53 Democratic Senators vote for the reauthorization, the Senate has enough votes to keep the bank alive.

And with 41 House Republicans supporting reauthorization in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner late last month, the GOP-controlled chamber also has enough votes when widespread Democratic support is included. If the Democratic-controlled Senate tied the fate of the bank to a short-term spending resolution to keep the government open, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering, House Republicans would have to make the difficult choice of whether or not to shut the government down to block a bank few Americans have heard of. That seems unlikely, with even Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a fierce opponent, estimating recently that only “1 in 1,000” have ever heard of the bank, and with memories of last year’s government shutdown and the damage it did to the party’s poll numbers still fresh.

One major question remains how Senate Republicans who support the bank want to reform it.

“I stand where I always have,” Alexander told TIME. “I think it needs some reforms but I’m in favor of it.”

When pressed on how he is looking to reform the bank, Alexander replied, “I’m reviewing that right now.”

Alexander’s response was echoed by several others.

“Senator Portman believes we should do everything possible to support American exporters, and not give a leg up to countries like China by unilaterally disarming our export finance system,” Ohio Sen. Rob Portman spokeswoman Christyn Keyes said. “That said, it’s crucial that we take steps to protect taxpayers and that we take a hard look at any needed reforms.”

“Sen. Isakson supports reauthorizing Ex-Im, but would like to see some reforms,” Isakson spokeswoman Amanda Maddox told TIME.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), who voted to extend the bank’s charter in 2012, will vote to support the bank again, so long as Reid allows senators to offer amendments, Johanns spokesman Nick Simpson told TIME.

TIME Congress

House Conservatives Are Right: Kill The Export-Import Bank

John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, Eric Cantor, Richard Hudson
J. Scott Applewhite—AP Newly installed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, met with reporters on February 4, 2014.

Some corporate subsidies are good and necessary. This is not one of them.

The self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives who run the Republican Party did not object to the bloated agribusiness subsidies in this year’s $956 billion farm bill. They’ve fought for weapons systems the Pentagon doesn’t want and water projects the country doesn’t need. They’ve helped repeal sensible flood insurance reforms designed to slash subsidies for waterfront property. And now they expect us to cheer their efforts to kill the obscure Export-Import Bank, which doesn’t even cost taxpayers money?

Sure, why not? The Republicans may be hypocrites, but they’re right to take aim at the Ex-Im Bank.

The Ex-Im is, as Senator Barack Obama said during his presidential campaign, “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” It provides cheap credit to foreign borrowers, often cash-flush behemoths like Brazil’s state-owned oil company or the emirate of Dubai, so they can buy products from U.S. exporters, often cash-flush behemoths like Boeing, Bechtel, Caterpillar or General Electric. It’s dearly beloved by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, but it’s often earned its reputation for crony capitalism. William Jefferson, the congressman memorably caught with cash in his freezer, got his dirty money in exchange for introducing corporate executives to Ex-Im officials, and the Justice Department is now investigating potential corruption inside the bank.

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor—like Texas Governor Rick Perry and other talk-a-good-game fiscal conservatives—supported the Ex-Im Bank, and the Obama Administration has defended it as a jobs engine. But Cantor’s stunning primary defeat to Tea Party challenger Dave Brat scrambled the politics of Ex-Im, persuading House Republican leaders to oppose the bank despite the pleadings of the Chamber and some influential corporate giants. Cantor had rolled the Tea Party and House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling on flood insurance; his successor, Kevin McCarthy, wants to reassure the Tea Party and Hensarling, a potential rival for his job, that the leadership will put conservative principles first.

There aren’t a lot of principled arguments for saving Ex-Im. Its defenders say most of its loans help small businesses, which is technically true when they define “small” as fewer than 1,500 employees. But 30% of the cash it lends goes to Boeing and over 60% goes to 10 large corporations. The bank also boasts that it doesn’t cost taxpayers money—which is true, or mostly true, depending on how you do the accounting—because only 0.3 percent of its loans default. But that’s not evidence the Ex-Im is effective. That’s evidence the Ex-Im is unnecessary. Surely the private sector can provide 99.7-percent-safe loans to massive conglomerates.

This is the problem with arguments that the Ex-Im “supports” about 200,000 jobs; most of those jobs would probably be supported without the Ex-Im. And while exports do help the economy, export subsidies distort the economy, reducing the cost of capital for well-connected companies while putting their competitors at an artificial disadvantage. Paul Krugman recently suggested on his New York Times blog that even though those distortions are inefficient, eliminating the Ex-Im’s modest economic stimulus while the recovery remains soft (and while the Fed would be unlikely to offset its stimulus by raising interest rates) would be worse. I’ve been a dedicated supporter of stimulus—I mean, dedicated—but Krugman’s argument can be used to justify any government program, no matter how absurd. It was a legitimate argument during the cataclysmic freefall of early 2009, but it packs less punch now that the economy is creating jobs at a decent pace.

The best argument for the Ex-Im’s corporate welfare is probably that other nations do it, too. That’s true. It would be nice if the Ex-Im died as part of a global trade deal that forced other countries to slash their own export subsidies and stop picking winners and losers. But since that isn’t a current option, we ought to go first and urge the rest of the world to follow. The direct benefits the Ex-Im Bank provides for Boeing do not outweigh the indirect costs it imposes on everyone else.

Those costs, it must be said, are not astronomical. We have an extremely big government, and the Ex-Im Bank, which finances only 2 percent of U.S. export deals, is an extremely small part of it. And there are times when government ought to pick winners and losers, even though it can be inefficient; for example, I’m a big supporter of federal loans and other programs designed to promote clean energy, because dirty energy is ravaging the planet.

The fate of the Ex-Im Bank, on the other hand, will not affect the fate of the planet. It probably won’t even affect the fate of Boeing, which is perfectly capable of doing deals with Arab petro-states without government-guaranteed financing. So what’s the point of keeping it around and enduring its periodic scandals? Those of us who believe that government should do a lot of important things, like defend the nation and fight climate change and ensure universal health insurance, ought to recognize that government shouldn’t try to do everything. Opposing the Ex-Im doesn’t mean agreeing with the Tea Party notion that government shouldn’t try to do anything—just that it should stop trying to do this.

TIME Congress

GOP Leaders Yield to Base on Killing Obscure Government Bank

Kevin Dietsch—UPI/Landov Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on June 19, 2014

A victory for conservatives

House Speaker John Boehner signaled Tuesday that he’s willing to let lawmakers kill an obscure government bank, in a victory for conservatives who feared that last week’s election of new GOP leadership would make it harder to eliminate.

“My job is to work with our members to get to a place where the members are comfortable,” Boehner, speaking at a news conference in Washington, said of the debate over Export-Import bank. “Some people believe that we shouldn’t have it at all, others believe that we should reauthorize it with significant reforms, and we’re going to work our way through this.”

The bank, supported by the White House, the Democratic-controlled Senate, the business community and at least 41 House Republicans, provides loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to help foreigners purchase U.S. goods. Its supporters credit it with supporting about205,000 American jobs, while opponents say it could easily be replaced by the private sector. Congress must renew the Ex-Im bank’s charter by Sept. 30 or it will be unable to back new loans.

When asked if he believes the so-called the Ex-Im bank has an impact on the economy, Boehner responded: “I don’t know.”

Tuesday’s comments mark a turn around for Boehner, who said the bank “will help create jobs in our country” when its charter was reauthorized two years ago. But on Tuesday, Boehner yielded authority on the issue to the House Financial Committee, chaired by Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, an outspoken critic of the Ex-Im Bank. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who chaired the committee through 2012, supported the bank, albeit with some reforms.

Boehner’s acquiescence will be taken as a welcome sign for his conservative rank-and-file, who feared the election last week of establishment-friendly Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the new House Majority Leader would block them from what’s become a top policy priority. But McCarthy said Sunday that he opposes reauthorizing the bank’s charter, and Boehner said Tuesday that Hensarling would have a key role in “outlining” the future of the bank.

“The members have been discussing this issue,” Boehner said. “I believe there’s a hearing tomorrow in the Financial Services committee. And after that, I’m looking forward to the chairman outlining how we’re going to deal with this rather controversial subject.”

Despite GOP leaders’ recent statements, the bank’s charter could still be renewed if coalition of House Democrats and Republicans pass the Senate’s end-of-year spending resolution, which will include reauthorization.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: June 24

Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

In the news: Kerry in Iraq; Ex-Im debate ranges amid new investigation; primary Tuesday; Bionic future beckons

  • “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held crisis talks with leaders of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region on Tuesday urging them to stand with Baghdad in the face of a Sunni insurgent onslaught that threatens to dismember the country.” [Reuters]
    • “What’s not debatable are the echoes of Saigon in both Baghdad and Kabul. The final U.S. troops in Vietnam headed for home in 1973. Two years later, the North Vietnamese pressed south toward the capital of Saigon, from where Nguyen Van Thieu ruled.” [TIME]
  • “The U.S. Export-Import Bank has suspended or removed four officials in recent months amid investigations into allegations of gifts and kickbacks, as well as attempts to steer federal contracts to favored companies…” [WSJ]
    • House Majority Leader-Elect Puts Ex-Im Bank in Jeopardy [TIME]
  • “The number of children caught crossing the Mexican border without an adult has jumped tenfold and is overwhelming officials charged with caring for them in federal custody.” [Hill]
  • “As the tumultuous fight for Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat in Washington hurtles toward a close on Tuesday, this bitter reality has started to dawn on Republicans here: The larger battle for power within the Mississippi Republican coalition is only just beginning.” [Politico]
    • “If Charles Rangel is going to get pushed out of Congress, it won’t be without a dance.” [Politico]
  • “Investigations into the Christie administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have zeroed in on possible securities law violations stemming from a $1.8 billion road repair agreement in 2011…” [NYT]
  • Science fiction come true: Moving a paralyzed hand with the power of thought [WashPost]
TIME Congress

House Majority Leader-Elect Puts Export-Import Bank In Jeopardy

Kevin McCarthy
J. Scott Applewhite—AP Newly elected House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., arrives for GOP leadership elections, on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 19, 2014.

One of the first major acts of new House Majority Leader-elect Kevin McCarthy could very well be to kill the eight-decades-old Export-Import bank, which provides loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to help foreigners purchase U.S. goods.

Congress must renew the Ex-Im bank’s charter by Sept. 30 or it will be unable to back new loans. And despite support from a large part of the business community, the White House and the Democratically-controlled Senate, its fate now hangs in the balance because no one in House Republican leadership actively, publicly supports it.

McCarthy told Fox News Sunday that he opposed reauthorizing the export credit agency’s charter because he felt the private sector could take care of it. This stance is a reversal of his position just two years ago. New House Whip Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, also opposes reauthorization.

A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner told reporters Monday that the Financial Services Committee, chaired by Ex-Im bank opponent Jeb Hensarling, will lead a discussion on how to handle the issue as the deadline to act looms.

In expressing his opposition, the Majority Leader-elect shores up support on his right and takes away a chief talking-point from Hensarling, a potential conservative rival for McCarthy if both decide to vie for Speaker when Boehner steps down. Boehner, 64, has declined to promise another two years as Speaker.

“McCarthy made it clear last week to members [that] he believes that products that come to the floor should proceed through regular order,” a McCarthy aide told TIME. “That means through the appropriate committee of jurisdiction.” If the Financial Services Committee doesn’t act, in other words, no more Ex-Im Bank.

That’s bad news for many in the business community. In a conference call with reporters Monday, the heads of the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers said they have engaged in a “full court press” on Congress, assembling a “dream team” of influential lobbyists that includes former Democratic House Leader Dick Gephardt, former Republican governor Haley Barbour and Tony Fratto, former spokesman for President George W. Bush.

They have also organized letters to be sent to Congress Monday from 865 organizations, urging support and reminding elected officials that the Ex-Im bank has supported $37 billion in exports, more than 200,000 jobs and 3,400 companies. There are at least 59 other countries that have created government export credit agencies.

McCarthy’s predecessor, Eric Cantor, struck a deal in 2012 with Democrats to renew the charter, a move which received broad bipartisan support.

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said as long as the reauthorization “gets to the floor, I’m very confident that it will get through the Congress.”

“Leader McCarthy is a very thoughtful member of Congress and he is somebody that considers all of the ramifications, pro and con,” Timmons said. “I’m quite sure that he and the majority of his caucus don’t want to see American jobs lost to our competitors because we closed the one source of financing for a lot of small and medium size businesses.”

The difficulty, of course, is getting the vote to the floor when the man in charge of getting it there, McCarthy, is opposed to reauthorizing the charter. Another problem is that Ex-Im is not a well-known government entity and the Chamber of Commerce has not decided that the issue is important enough to be a deciding factor in future fundraising and support.

“Right now, we’re not a single-issue organization,” Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said. “It is important for us to convey to the members of the Congress the issues that are very important to our members… and to take measure all the time of those that are supportive of the businesses that we represent and those that aren’t. But I don’t see this as a single-issue thing that is going to decide where we are and where we’re not in the political process.”

For those Republican congressmen that do support the charter’s reauthorization, McCarthy’s comments Sunday marked a troubling turn of events. “It surprised me a little bit,” said Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), calling them a “concern.” Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who supports the bank so long as other countries retain similar agencies, referred to the Ex-Im bank in terms bringing to mind The Princess Bride‘s Miracle Max.

“It may or not be breathing,” said Stivers (R-Ohio). “[It’s] not completely dead.”

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