Boehner: Killing Export-Import Bank risks thousands of jobs; asks finance chairman for plan

WASHINGTON – Thousands of jobs would “disappear pretty quickly” if the Export-Import Bank were to expire abruptly when its charter runs out at the end of June, House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday.

The Ohio Republican has asked Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, to come up with a plan to overhaul or wind down the operations of the bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. products such as jetliners and wind turbines.

“There are thousands of jobs on the line that would disappear pretty quickly if the Ex-Im Bank were to disappear. So I told the chairman he needs to come up with a plan,” Boehner told reporters. “Because the risk is that if he does nothing, the Senate is likely to act. And then what?”

Boehner’s unwillingness to let the bank’s operations abruptly end is at odds with deputies such as Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who said Tuesday that he supports letting the bank’s charter expire.

Many conservative Republicans want to kill the bank outright, saying it finances too many questionable projects and favours some businesses over others. But the bank enjoys sweeping support among Democrats, and other GOP lawmakers support business groups who say it sustains U.S. jobs.

Boehner said he’ll support any plan Hensarling can advance through his divided panel. But the Texas Republican, who is a sharp critic of the bank, appears at odds with a host of the bank’s GOP supporters that populate his committee.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., opposes renewing the bank’s charter. But he’s signalled he’ll allow an up-or-down vote that would likely go the bank’s way.

Boehner’s comments raised the possibility that he would allow the House to vote on a Senate bill if Hensarling’s committee failed pass a plan to change the bank’s operations or wind it down.