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Job-creating Export-Import Bank is limited by a Senator’s populist priorities

Sometimes you have to wonder how the U.S. Senate gets anything done.

In yet another Senate example of politics thwarting majority rule, Republican Senator Richard Shelby, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has stymied the job-creating Export-Import Bank.

[Among many other examples of antiquated Senate rules: “limbo” status for many dozens of judicial, executive branch and ambassadorial nominations. Not to mention the disgraceful refusal to even consider the Supreme Court nomination of Justice Merrick Garland that has led to the Court punting back four critical issues to lower courts. And, to be fair, Democrats have been known to use similar Senate tactics.]

In the Export-Import Bank case, Mr. Shelby, covering the right flank in his recent primary victory, has stymied the bank’s ability to support major export deals by delaying his committee’s vote on a candidate for the bank’s board, J. Mark McWatters. That action (actually in-action) represents something more fundamental — the ascendance of conservative populists in the Republican Party confronting the party’s traditional allies.

Example: A powerful business institution often allied with the Party strongly disagrees with the Shelby Stymie. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long been an Export-Import supporter. It recently stated: “We urge the Senate to move swiftly to consider this [McWatters] nominee. U.S. jobs rely on exports. The longer the delay in filling this position, the more U.S. companies face delays in securing sales … In fiscal year 2014, Ex-Im Bank provided financing or guarantees for $27.5 billion in U.S. exports, thereby supporting more than 164,00 jobs.”

Meanwhile, General Electric and Boeing are therefore shifting jobs abroad. John G. Rice, G.E. vice chairman in a New York Times interview: “It’s very troubling to me, and I think many others, that one person can hijack a process and keep the export credit agency from functioning in the United States when two-thirds of Congress support it.”