Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner says the beleaguered U.S. Export-Import bank may need some reforms, but "thousands of jobs would disappear quickly" if the agency were allowed to go out of business at the end of June.
That is when Ex-Im's authorization expires, and without congressional action, it will have to stop accepting new customers at that time. Ex-Im supplies financing and loan guarantees to foreign customers of U.S. companies.
Many of the Republican Party's most conservative members criticize the Ex-Im Bank as a form of "corporate welfare" that helps huge corporations with political clout at the expense of taxpayers and other American firms.
At a contentious hearing before two House sub-committees Thursday, Republican Jim Jordan said dozens of investigations and a guilty plea in a bribery case show the agency has a corruption problem. Jordan also accused the agency of poor leadership, and of losing track of half a billion dollars’ worth of taxpayers' money in one of its biggest projects. Ex-Im Bank President Fred Hochberg says the money was properly accounted for, and the bank supported 164,000 U.S. jobs last year.
Supporters of the bank say it offers its services to companies large and small, and makes money for the government through fees and interest charges. Critics dispute the claim Ex-Im is profitable. Key parts of the U.S. business community have spoken out in favor of continuing Ex-Im and note that 60 other nations have agencies that help boost their exports.
At the hearing, Representative Maxine Waters, a Democrat, urged her Republican colleagues to stand up for the bank and the jobs that depend on it.