The Senate Banking Committee today rejected the Trump administration’s nomination of Scott Garrett to head the Export-Import Bank, with Republican Sens. Mike Rounds (S.D.) and Tim Scott (S.C.) crossing party lines to vote with Democrats, 13-10. Garrett’s nomination had been subject to intense criticism from business groups, primarily because of his strong opposition to the agency during his time representing New Jersey in the House.
The Export-Import Bank is intended to provide financing to help U.S. companies sell products or services globally. According to the bank, that service “levels the playing field for U.S. goods and services going up against foreign competition” and supports American jobs. Some analyses show that the Ex-Im Bank even turns a profit for taxpayers, though others argue that doesn’t account for risk.
Supporting the bank’s goals would seem in line with President Trump’s “America First” agenda, but some Republicans — including many that make up Trump’s political base — regard it as a paragon of ‘crony capitalism’ and corporate welfare. Opposition to the Ex-Im bank predates Trump’s political ascendance, and the failure to confirm directors for its board has stifled the bank’s normal operations for more than two years.
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The nomination of Garrett, who voted against reauthorizations of the bank in both 2012 and 2015, incensed many business interests, even those who agreed with other elements of the Trump agenda. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposed him. So did the National Association of Manufacturers, whose CEO, Jay Timmons, wrote a scathing op-ed in the Wall Street Journal following Garrett’s nomination, counting Garrett among those “responsible for moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to other countries.”
According to The Hill, the Banking Committee did approve four other nominees to the Ex-Im board. If they are approved by the Senate, the agency will be able to return to normal operation.