Before leaving for Christmas break, the Senate blocked the nomination of Scott Garrett, President Trump’s choice to lead the Export Import Bank, which has long been opposed by conservatives as corporate welfare. Why did this happen? Mercatus’ Veronique De Rugy explains:
The Senate Banking Committee rejected President Trump’s nominee to head the Export-Import Bank, former representative Scott Garrett. Among the votes against were two Republican senators (Rounds and Scott), who supported those who believe that it is the role of the federal government to subsidize big companies such as Boeing and GE. That’s disappointing, because Garrett would have restored some accountability and transparency at the Bank while making sure that companies in countries that weren’t allowed to be sponsored by U.S. taxpayers (think about Boeing selling planes to Iran) weren’t getting Ex-Im loans. Make no mistake, a vote against Garrett signals the power of special interests, lobbyists, and the swamp over politicians, both Republicans and Democrats.
Restoring the full lending authority of the bank is shameful. As a reminder, when Ex-Im was operating fully — before July 1, 2015 — 65 percent of all its activities benefited just ten large companies and 86 percent of the deals were worth over $10 million. The Bank hasn’t been able to back deals larger than $10 million since then, and yet, the sky is still way high above our heads, the dystopian world promised by the supporters of Ex-Im during the 2015 fight over the Bank never materialized, the economy is growing, and Boeing is flourishing. When are we going to hold accountable those who spent their time scaring the American people by telling them that things would be horrible if the Ex-Im Bank didn’t continue business as usual? Apparently, never.
At least one Senator is pushing back. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) has announced he won’t allow any of ExIm board members to be approved until Garrett is confirmed, meaning ExIm is severely hampered from functioning until the stalemate is resolved.
Business supportive of the Export-Import Bank, many of whom might have cheered the lower corporate tax rate coming with the tax code overhaul, were given reason to be frustrated Thursday night. Sen. Patrick J. Toomey would not allow the Senate to confirm nominees to be members of the board of the Export-Import Bank, an aide to the Pennsylvania Republican said Thursday. Under Senate rules, nominations made to the chamber must be acted on during the session in which the nomination was made or else they are returned to the White House. This restriction is often waived by unanimous consent at the end of a session.
In the case of the bank, Toomey wants to see former New Jersey GOP Rep. Scott Garrett confirmed as the leader of the agency, but Garrett faced bipartisan opposition at the Senate Banking Committee, which voted down his nomination earlier this week. “I will support these nominees either en bloc, or I will support them sequentially, provided that Scott Garrett is confirmed first,” Toomey said last month. “And as long as that is the case, and Scott Garrett is confirmed by the United States Senate, then I will support, as I say, reconstituting the quorum on the board. If not, then I will do everything I can to prevent Ex-Im from getting a quorum.”
Toomey followed through on that Thursday.