04:13 - Source: CNN
What in the World: America's Ex-Im bank

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Trump announces two new nominees to fill open positions at Export-Import Bank

The importance of the bank has been highly disputed among Republicans

Washington CNN  — 

President Donald Trump will nominate former members of Congress Scott Garrett and Spencer Bachus to two vacant positions at the US Export-Import Bank – an entity Trump has in the past called “excess baggage” and agreed with conservatives on shutting down.

Garrett would fill the role of Ex-Im president for a four-year term. In the past, Garrett was openly critical of the Ex-Im Bank, tweeting in 2015: “I opposed the House’s vote to reauthorize the corporate welfare program known as the Ex-Im Bank. #CronyCapitalism.”

Garrett served as a New Jersey Republican congressman from 2003 to 2015 and was a state representative for 12 years prior. He was one of the nine founding members of the House Freedom Caucus.

Bachus would be a member of the Ex-Im Bank’s Board of Directors. Bachus served in Congress from 1993 to 2015, representing Alabama, and at one point was chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. He supported the bank’s re-authorization, once saying the Ex-Im Bank “is available to help those small businesses compete and win in the global marketplace.”

The Ex-Im Bank, the federal government’s export credit agency, has been targeted by groups like the Heritage Foundation and some free-market conservatives in the past – who argue it’s a form of corporate welfare that unduly benefits major companies, such as Boeing and Caterpillar.

Re-authorizing the bank became a campaign issue during the 2014 midterm election and remained an issue of debate in Congress afterward. Opponents, such as then-Senate banking chairman Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, have tried to hobble it by not confirming nominees to its board. The bank has lacked full power in recent years because of those vacant seats, which means it can’t approve transactions over $10 million.

On the campaign trail, Trump called the bank “featherbedding” for politicians and companies.

“I don’t like it. I think it’s a lot of excess baggage. I think it’s unnecessary,” he told Bloomberg in August 2015. “And when you think about free enterprise, it’s really not free enterprise. I’d be against it.”

But Trump appeared to reverse a number of his campaign trail positions in an interview published by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, including signaling support for the Ex-Im Bank.

In the interview, Trump said the Ex-Im Bank helped small companies.

“Instinctively, you would say, ‘Isn’t that a ridiculous thing?” Trump said. “But actually, it’s a very good thing. And it actually makes money, it could make a lot of money.”

The White House did not return a request for comment.