WASHINGTON ― The Senate banking committee rejected President
choice to lead the Export-Import Bank on Tuesday, voting 10-13
against advancing his nomination to the full Senate. Two
Republicans joined with Democrats in opposition.
Scott Garrett, who
was a tea-party-aligned Republican congressman from New Jersey
until he lost his re-election bid in 2016, has faced intense
opposition from the business community ― corporations like
General Electric Co.
and Boeing ― and many traditional GOP allies, such as
the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce and the National Association of
That’s because Garrett once wanted to shutter the institution
that he now is trying to run, and he consistently voted against
In 2015, he lambasted the Export-Import Bank as an institution
that “embodies the
corruption of the free enterprise system.”
Former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) failed in his bid to head
the Export-Import Bank.
“Manufacturers are grateful to have an ally in the White House
who seeks to ensure that America and its workers are not left
behind as foreign governments do all they can to win in the
global economy,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons wrote in an
October letter to Senate
banking committee leaders. “At the same time, the NAM is firmly
opposed to the nomination of former U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett
(R-NJ) as president of the Ex-Im Bank given his longstanding
opposition to its mission and his past actions to destroy the
In his confirmation hearing before the
committee last month, Garrett tried to convince senators that
he turned over a new leaf. But many of them still seemed
skeptical, since he refused to say his previous denunciations
Instead, Garrett said he was no longer in favor of abolishing
the bank because Trump is now president, and he simply wants to
run it instead.
“Senator, if the question is, what has changed since 2015, what
we have seen changed is a new administration,” Garrett said.
“What we have seen change is a new agenda by this
administration to see to it that the economy actually grows,
and that businesses are given a fair chance to grow their
businesses both nationally and internationally as
well. … My role has changed. I am not in a legislative
“We are disappointed that the Senate Banking Committee missed
this opportunity to get the Export Import Bank fully
functioning again. We will continue to work with the Committee
on a path forward,” said Marc Short, the White House director
of legislative affairs.
Sens. Mike Rounds (S.D.) and Tim Scott (S.C.) were the two
Republican votes against Garrett.
“I believe he’s a principled man who simply believes in the
abolishment of the bank,” Rounds said. “While I wish him no
ill, I believe he’s not the right
person to be the chairman.”
Trump has nominated other individuals to run government
agencies that they once fought or opposed. Scott Pruitt is now
in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Mick
Mulvaney is the interim chairman of the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau. But both of those agencies are ones that are
more universally unpopular with the GOP and its backers. The
difference with the Export-Import Bank is that it has more
support within the party ― although many conservatives dislike
it ― and the business community.
“Today’s Senate Banking Committee vote on Ex-Im board
nominees is a milestone for manufacturers across the U.S.
whose customers require a fully-functioning Ex-Im Bank,” said
a GE spokesperson. “We urge the full Senate to move quickly
on behalf of US workers and companies of all sizes to
guarantee the Bank can once again operate at full strength.”
Garrett, a founding member of the conservative House Freedom
Caucus, lost his 2016 re-election bid in large part due to
anti-gay remarks he made.
In 2015, Garrett told fellow
Republicans in a closed-door meeting that he
wouldn’t pay his dues to the National Republican
Congressional Committee because the
organization supported some gay
Garrett later clarified that he didn’t oppose gay people
running for office, but he believed the GOP should not
support candidates who back same-sex marriage. His
comments cost him support from
Wall Street donors, who had been a major source of
funding for his previous campaigns.
This post has been updated with reactions and more
details on the vote.
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