Waters backs down in Ex-Im fight after internal struggle

(Politico, Washington, 26 June 2019) House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) on Wednesday shelved a bipartisan Export-Import Bank bill that sparked a fierce backlash from her own caucus. The original compromise she drafted with Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) ignited criticism from a wide swath of the Democrats on the committee — centrists and progressives alike, from the most senior members to newly elected freshmen, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who objected to new restrictions that would be imposed on the bank and big manufacturers such as Boeing, that benefit from its loan guarantees, as well as the lack of tougher environmental safeguards for energy projects financed abroad. Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) were preparing to offer amendments that would impose new limits on the agency's financing of fossil fuel power plants abroad with the political backing of dozens of environmental groups. Limits on sales to China were a must-have for McHenry, who argued that it was a way to curb what he saw as a subsidy for an economic competitor. The bank is only now returning to full operation after years of being hobbled by conservative Republican lawmakers who criticized the agency as engaging in "crony capitalism" and posing a risk to taxpayers, even though it returns money to the Treasury. McHenry had predicted a strong Republican vote in favor of the bill thanks to the compromises Waters agreed to, while disgruntled Democrats were frustrated that Waters negotiated the bill with the Republicans and expected Democrats to fall in line without more of their input.