Posted by Curt on 30 September, 2015 at 4:54 pm. 1 comment.


Veronique de Rugy:

There are a lot of people wondering what the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, will do in his last days in office. I am sure he is under a lot of pressure from all sides. The question is: Which faction will he side with?

Representative Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) is very hopeful that the speaker will side with the Democrats and push through all the stuff they really, really want. So let’s take note of what the Democrats are hoping for and we can judge Boehner’s legacy based on how compliant he is with their wishes:

Hoyer, for his part, said he regards Boehner’s CBS interview as an encouraging sign that the Speaker is aiming high.

“I interpret that as he wants to get some things done that are important for the country to get done so that he doesn’t leave that for the next leadership. … I agree with him on that. I hope he can,” Hoyer said.

“We need to get a long-term budget agreement; we need to get the debt limit so that we don’t run up to the deadline; we need to get the Export-Import Bank passed; we need to pass a highway bill. All of those things I think Speaker Boehner wants to do.”

Okay, so the Democrats’ wish list is (1) the debt ceiling, (2) a long-term budget agreement, (3) a highway bill, and (4) reauthorizing Ex-Im.

Now, the Speaker may be able to defend his decision to push the highway bill because it expires on October 29th (but even then, a fix doesn’t require a big bill since a simple extension would be enough to maintain the status quo). But no deadline exists that can be used to justify siding with the Democrats to reauthorize Ex-Im. Action on Ex-Im would be especially bold and telling considering that everyone else in the GOP leadership is against it, and Kevin McCarthy, likely the next speaker, has made it clear that he wants Ex-Im to stay dead. We will be watching.

But we may not have to wait too long to know whether Boehner takes the Democrats’ side. According to rumors, he met with Nancy Pelosi on the House floor to talk about Ex-Im. That seems to have encouraged Representative Stephen Fincher of Tennessee to make his move. According to The Hill’s Kevin Cirilli, Fincher will try to revive Ex-Im with the help of Democrats by using ”a rarely used legislative maneuver” to bring a bill to the floor without the consent of the committee of jurisdiction (in this case, Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s committee). And in case anyone is confused about his loyalties: Fincher is using all the talking points from his friends on K Street to justify his actions. Speaker Boehner does have to accept the discharge petition to begin the process, but we can speculate that he already has.

This is a very big deal as Dan Holler of Heritage Action explains:

“[A]ny Republican that offers or joins a discharge petition with 180 or more Democrats is sending a signal to the soon-to-be-new leadership team that Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama are now in charge.”

This will be an important test for McCarthy: If Boehner and Fincher succeed in bringing Ex-Im back from the dead, his ability to lead the GOP conference would be rightfully questioned. I certainly hope we remember these alliances of convenience and the effort some Republicans put into reviving one of the DC’s most crony institutions.

Talking about Democrats and Ex-Im, over at Econ Journal Watch, GMU’s professor Dan Klein, Ryan Daza, and I ask: Why Weren’t Left Economists More Opposed and More Vocal on the Export-Import Bank?  After all, liberal economists have traditionally been in favor of free trade and are still critical of other policies and programs resembling Ex-Im. As such, you would think that they would be up in arms about this. But with a few exceptions, like Dean Baker, they weren’t. Here is our conclusion:

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