A Key Conservative Group Is Opposing the Export-Import Bank. But Some of Its Members Continue to Support It.

Some members of the U.S. House’s Republican Study Committee are bucking the committee’s opposition to the Export-Import Bank and instead expressing steadfast support for the bank’s reauthorization.

The Republican Study Committee today announced its opposition to the Export-Import Bank and called on Congress to allow its charter to expire on June 30.

“Federal bureaucrats should not be picking business’ winners and losers,” Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, the group’s chairman, said in a statement. “Instead, know [that] American businesses are capable of competing in a free and open market, without government interfering.”

A majority of GOP lawmakers belong to the Republican Study Committee, which works to promote and implement a conservative policy agenda. Though the committee took a stance against Ex-Im, 33 Republican Study Committee members have signed on as co-sponsors of legislation from Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., reauthorizing the bank for another five years.

In 2012, when the bank was last reauthorized, 57 Republican Study Committee members voted to extend Ex-Im’s life, including Flores.

In a statement, Fincher—himself a member of the Republican Study Committee—called the group’s opposition to Ex-Im “misleading,” saying it doesn’t represent the views of the majority of its members, who support Ex-Im.

“Given that there was no Ex-Im vote taken this week by RSC members, and given my bill’s conservative support, the perspective being circulated on behalf of the entire conservative caucus is misleading and indicative of the views of a small group of Steering Committee members—not rank-and-rile RSC members,” he said.

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A press release from the Republican Study Committee, though, stated Ex-Im’s future was discussed at meetings convened with its members and the Steering Committee, which governs the group. The Republican Study Committee publicly endorses or opposes a position when two-thirds of the Steering Committee vote in favor of it.

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The Daily Signal reached out to the offices of the 32 Republican Study Committee members who supported Fincher’s legislation to see if the group’s official stance against the bank would cause them to change their individual positions.

Jordan See, a spokesman for Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., told The Daily Signal the lawmaker continues to support Ex-Im’s reauthorization despite the committee’s stance.

“He does support reauthorization,” he said. “While he understands the RSC’s position, he doesn’t agree with it.”

See argued that the bank helps support U.S. jobs both for the companies directly benefiting from Ex-Im financing and smaller businesses those beneficiaries work with. Additionally, he pointed to export credit agencies backed by foreign governments as one reason reauthorization is needed and noted that other countries directly subsidize companies that compete with those in the United States, such as Airbus.

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., another Republican Study Committee member, continues to support legislation reauthorizing Ex-Im that includes reforms.

“With a majority of our most aggressive economic competitors across the world possessing similar export credit agencies, it would be irresponsible for our country to unilaterally disarm ourselves,” he said in a statement to The Daily Signal.

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In an email to The Daily Signal, Joe Kasper, spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said Hunter supports reauthorization only if “strong reforms” are included, but wouldn’t say whether he would vote for reauthorization if it were brought to a vote.

Similarly, representatives for fellow Republican Study Committee Reps. Chris Collins of New York and Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania told The Daily Signal the lawmakers continue to support the bank’s reauthorization and would vote in favor of extending its charter if it were brought to a vote.

The Export-Import Bank’s charter expires June 30, and with less than 20 legislative days to go, policymakers are debating its future. In addition to the Republican Study Committee, the House Freedom Caucus, another conservative group of GOP lawmakers, announced its opposition to the bank last month.

“This is a historic opportunity for congressional conservatives to not only end one of FDR’s creations, but to demonstrate to voters that America’s conservative party is fighting favoritism and cronyism in Washington,” said Dan Holler of Heritage Action, which opposes reauthorization. “The RSC’s 170 members will play an important part in that role. It came as a surprise to many the chairman would stake out this position. In doing so he has positioned the group’s conservative members to score a significant policy victory.”

In total, more than 90 Republicans have publicly announced their opposition to Ex-Im. Additionally, the chairmen of eight committees, including House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, are calling for its end.

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Last month, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana—two members of Republican leadership—voiced their opposition to Ex-Im’s reauthorization, as well.

“The coalition against the Export-Import Bank continues to grow. I applaud Chairman Flores and the RSC for joining Leader McCarthy, Whip Scalise, key chairmen, nearly every Republican presidential candidate, and conservative groups in calling for Congress to let the Ex-Im Bank’s charter expire,” Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the Freedom Caucus’ chairman, said in a statement. “The time is now to end this patent example of corporate welfare.”

Though a growing number of GOP lawmakers continue to voice their opposition to Ex-Im’s reauthorization, the Club for Growth launched a $1 million advertising campaign to pressure Republicans, including Flores and Fincher, to publicly speak out against the bank. The other six are Reps. Rob Bishop of Utah, Buddy Carter of Georgia, Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, David McKinley of West Virginia, Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, and Chris Stewart of Utah.

According to the Club for Growth, both Bishop and Stewart today announced their opposition to the bank’s reauthorization after the group said it would run advertisements in Utah beginning Friday.

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