Capitol & State

Simpson votes to reauthorize Export-Import bank; Labrador votes no

Idaho’s U.S. Representatives split their votes Tuesday on a measure to reauthorize the Export-Import bank, which passed by a comfortable margin, 313-118.

The 81-year-old Ex-Im bank is the official export credit agency of the United States. Its mission is to support jobs and economic growth by facilitating exports through financing to overseas buyers.

The measure still requires Senate approval, but its passage in the House is a legislative victory for business and labor groups. Opponents of the bank, which blocked Congressional reauthorization in July, argue that it puts special business interests ahead of taxpayers.

Simpson, in a statement, said the bank’s financing helps Idaho businesses compete with foreign rivals. Other countries with export trading agencies provide far more generous support, he said.

“Numerous American businesses have told me that allowing the Ex-Im Bank to expire would be tantamount to unilateral trade disarmament, conceding billions of dollars in orders to other nations that maintain their own export credit agencies,” Simpson said.

The bank has won reauthorization for decades without issue. Opposition in recent years has come from hard-line conservatives as well as some liberals, who have characterized its activity as “corporate welfare.”

“The economic growth of our state depends on the ability of our high tech and manufacturing sectors to ship their products globally, and I will not support threatening the competitiveness of these American companies by dismantling the Ex-Im Bank,” Simpson said.

Rep. Raul Labrador, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, voted against reauthorization. The Freedom Caucus has decried the bank as an example of “crony capitalism.”

“The government shouldn’t pick winners and losers, favoring big corporations over small businesses that can’t afford lobbyists,” Labrador said through a spokesman. “The Ex-Im bank supports less than two percent of U.S. exports. I’m convinced the free market will do a better job providing capital for commerce.”