WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Republicans are working on how to approach reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. goods and services, House Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday, saying he would listen to all sides on the “thorny” issue.
Some House Republicans, including Boehner’s newly elected deputy, oppose renewing the bank’s funding.
“We are going to continue to work with our members” on whether the bank’s role should be taken over by the private sector, said Boehner, sidestepping a question about whether he personally backed reauthorizing the bank. “We are going to work our way through this,” he told reporters.
Boehner noted the House Financial Services Committee would have a hearing on Wednesday on the Export-Import Bank.
“After that I’m looking forward to the chairman outlining how we’re going to deal with this rather controversial subject,” he said, referring to Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling, a bank opponent who wants Ex-Im dismantled after its funding expires on September 30.
Earlier this week the newly elected No. 2. Republican in the House, Representative Kevin McCarthy, said he opposed renewing the charter for the bank, throwing its future into some doubt. The man McCarthy will replace on July 31, Eric Cantor, was a major supporter of the bank and helped get its charter renewed in 2012 in the face of conservative opposition.
Democrats in the Republican-controlled House are generally supportive of the bank, and their leader, Representative Steny Hoyer, has said Congress should reaffirm its support for Ex-Im as soon as possible.
The Export-Import Bank, which was established 80 years ago, backed $37.4 billion in exports in 2013. Scrapping it would be a blow to companies like Boeing, Caterpillar General Electric and others that rely on Ex-Im financing to make sales in export markets where commercial lending is scarce.
Boehner, who supported the bank in the past, said his job as speaker requires him to work with all members to get to a place where they are “comfortable” on the issue.
“Some people believe that we shouldn’t have it at all, others believe we should reauthorize it with significant reforms,” he said, speaking after a closed Republican party meeting.
Along with immigration, “We’re talking about a couple of thorny issues where there’s no easy path,” Boehner said.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Dan Grebler)