The Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) is on its way to being fully staffed, however with one unusual pick. Former New Jersey Congressman Scott Garrett was nominated by President Trump to be president of the Ex-Im Bank for the next four years, a surprising choice since he was once a vocal opponent of the bank’s existence. Former Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus, an Ex-Im proponent, was nominated to the bank’s board to serve the remainder of a 4-year term that expires in 2019.
Scott Garrett spoke to the House of Representative less than two years ago, calling the Ex-Im Bank an institution that “embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system.” On April 14, 2017, he was nominated to be chairman and president of the organization. If approved by the senate, his presidency would last until January 20, 2021.
Congressional supporters of the bank are skeptical of this choice. “I think there is a legitimate concern about whether this nominee will fulfill the commitment we have to American workers to get the bank up and running,” said Senator Heidi Heitkamp. “You have to make sure you are not putting someone in there who is a saboteur.”
Others are more optimistic about the nomination. “Scott Garrett’s a very capable guy, very knowledgeable about financial services in general, the Ex-Im bank in particular,” said Senator Patrick Toomey. “He’s correctly, in my mind, raised serious concerns about the Ex-Im bank.”
Whitehouse spokeswoman Natalie Strom told the New York Times that Trump was confident that Garrett would be a “key voice for reform” at the bank. She said that the Trump Administration will direct him to stop the bank from being a target of “special interests” and instead focus on supporting small businesses.
Nominee Spencer Bachus has been a long-time supporter of the bank. In 2001 he spoke at an export finance symposium saying the Ex-Im Bank “is available to help those small businesses compete and win in the global marketplace.”
If both nominations are approved, the bank will finally be able to consider higher value transactions. This would end 20-some months of being unable to finance medium- and long-term transactions exceeding $10 million due to vacancies on its five-member board. Ex-Im’s board must reach a quorum for such transactions and a minimum of three voting members is required to achieve a quorum.
Ex-Im Bank is a federal agency that was created to be an independent, self-sustaining source of financing for the export of American goods and services. According to the its website, Ex-Im supported more than 1.7 million jobs in all 50 states over the last decade.