President Donald Trump on Friday announced that he intends to nominate two former Republican lawmakers to fill empty seats on the Export-Import Bank’s board, one of whom has been a prominent opponent of the agency.
Trump tapped Scott Garrett, an Ex-Im critic and a former House member from New Jersey, as president of the bank’s board, and Spencer Bachus, a former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, as a board member. If they are confirmed, the bank would once again have a quorum, and therefore the ability to approve deals above $10 million.
Ex-Im guarantees loans for foreign companies interested in buying U.S. exports, and also runs programs such as providing insurance and credit to help small businesses secure new customers and working capital.
Trump criticized the agency during the campaign trail, but in a Wednesday interview with The Wall Street Journal the president said the bank helps 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.”
Garrett, a close ally of current Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, was vocally opposed to reviving the bank during the fight over whether to renew its charter in 2015. Garrett lost his reelection campaign last year.
While in Congress, Bachus represented Alabama, which is home to facilities for aircraft maker Boeing — the export credit agency’s biggest user — and Airbus, its European competitor. Bachus retired from office in 2015.
The bank is supported by a majority of the president’s party in Congress, but has faced strong opposition from key members — including Hensarling and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
In the last Congress, McConnell said he would move any Ex-Im nominee that came out of committee, in deference to the agency’s strong support in the Senate, but it’s unclear how Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo will approach the nominations.