Sen. Shelby Curbs Crony Capitalism at Revived Ex-Im Bank

File photo of Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama.

Sen. Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is successfully blocking the appointment of a third board member at the unpopular Export-Import bank, according to a report from the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal site.

That block means the federal government’s Ex-Im bank can’t do what it usually does — offer taxpayer-funded loan-insurance to foreign customers of big Americans companies, such as Boeing. If those loans go belly-up in the future, Boeing keeps its revenue and the taxpayers pay the cost.

Without a third board-member for the five-member board, the Ex-Im bank can only provide taxpayer-funded insurance for transactions worth up $10 million. That shifts theEx-Im bank’s guarantees — and the taxpayers’ support — towards smaller U.S. companies.

This populist stance has helped Shelby — he defeated his primary opponents in February, including Jonathan McConnell.

But now big companies — AKA donors to the GOP establishment — want the money-spigot turned back on.

The GOP’s Senate leader, Mitch McConnell is pressuring Shelby to approve the appointment of the third board-member. According to The Daily Signal,

If Shelby holds strong, McConnell could move to bring the nominees directly to the Senate floor, bypassing the chairman and his committee.

Though it would be difficult for the majority leader to make such a move without taking heat and sending a bad message to other committee chairman, the GOP Senate staffer said the majority leader could enlist the help of his Democratic colleagues to do so instead.

However, the staffer warned that setting such a precedent could be dangerous for the majority leader, particularly as a number of nominations—including that of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland—are currently held up in GOP-led committees.

McConnell’s increased pressure on the Banking Committee comes amid comments from Boeing’s chief executive officer at Ex-Im’s annual conference, taking place this week.

Speaking to attendees Thursday, Dennis Muilenburg urged Shelby to move forward with nominees to Ex-Im’s board. Muilenburg warned that without financing from the government agency, airlines abroad may not be able to accept the delivery of planes from Boeing, which puts its international business at risk.

The GOP’s conservatives briefly killed off the Ex-Im bank in 2015, but it was revived in December by a back-room bipartisan coalition of establishment GOP and Democratic legislators.