WASHINGTON (AP) — A potential compromise on the contentious issue of the U.S. Export-Import Bank's future was floated during a House hearing Wednesday.
Rep. John Campbell, a California Republican, said he has drafted compromise legislation that addresses some of the concerns of conservative Republicans who oppose the bank as a taxpayer-subsidized giveaway to large companies. Their opposition has pitted them against their traditional allies among major corporations who have made the bank's renewal a top priority.
The Ex-Im Bank provides loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to overseas buyers of U.S. goods. Its charter expires in September, and without legislation it would be unable to back new loans.
The future of the government agency came under threat last weekend after newly chosen House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he opposed reauthorizing the bank. Speaker John Boehner, a former supporter, declined to take a position Tuesday.
The House Financial Services Committee hearing Wednesday began with criticism of the bank by Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson, who argued that Ex-Im has subsidized foreign airlines' purchases of Boeing aircraft, giving them a competitive advantage.
"The bank uses the full faith and credit of the United States to make those foreign airlines stronger, healthier competitors, to the detriment of U.S. companies and their employees," Anderson said.
But Anderson also said Delta wouldn't oppose renewing the bank's charter as long as several specific reforms were made. In particular, he said, Ex-Im should stop financing purchases of large jets used in international flights by state-owned airlines.
Campbell's proposed legislation would limit the agency's ability to provide aid to state-owned companies. It also would lower the bank's lending cap, responding to concerns that the bank puts too much taxpayer money at risk. And it would reauthorize the bank for just three years, rather than the five requested by Ex-Im.