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Sen. Sherrod Brown D-OH Leads Grilling of Trump Nominee

Democrat Sherrod Brown, ranking Democrat on Senate Banking committee and US Chamber of Commerce both oppose Scott Garrett to head EXIM Bank (photo urycki)

U-S Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio wants to get the Export Import Bank lending money to American companies again, but he says he will vote against President Trump’s nominee for its president.   That made for some tough questioning in a Senate Banking committee hearing today (Wed).  

The US Export-Import bank – or EXIM -- makes loans and guarantees to companies that want to do business overseas.  Trump’s nominee for bank president is former Congressman Scott Garrett.  He and fellow conservative Tea Party members in Congress, including Jim Jordan of Ohio,  have said in the past they want to kill EXIM, and for the last 2 years, they’ve limited its powers.

Senator Brown quoted Senator Brown is supporting 4 export-import bank board nominees and was not very subtle while questioning them.  He quoted Garrett.

“Do you believe the bank ‘embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system?’ “

The nominees, Kimberly A. Reed, of West Virginia, Spencer Bachus III, of Alabama, Judith Delzoppo Pryor, of Ohio,  and Claudia Slacik of New York answered ,  “Absolutely not.   Agree.  No.   No.”       

The bank has been hobbled the last 2 years without enough board members to form a quorum. Pryor told the committee her grandparents came to work in Cleveland factories.

“To my youth and the unfortunate decline in manufacturing in what many call the “rust belt” - but let’s call it what it really is - the industrial heartland of America.  And clearly the need for ExIm in Cleveland and throughout the country is even more relevant today.” 

Pryor, who worked for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation under the Obama administration, said getting the Export-Impact bank up and running again is imperative to helping American manufacturers

Brown compared making Garrett bank president now is like putting an “arsonist in charge of the fire department” and pushed him to renounce his earlier statements.

“So you’ve changed your position on EX-IM just to be confirmed?”

“Senator, if the question is what has changed since 2015,” answered Garrett, “what we have seen change is a new administration.” 

Garrett and other opponents of the bank have said EXIM is doing what commercial banks can do. 

The chairman of U-S Bridge, a bridge manufacturing company in Cambridge, Ohio was not so sure.  Richard Rogovin who joined Brown afterward by phone, says he’s asked Garrett where those banks are.

“I never heard back from Mr. Garrett’s office.  And I think it’s a pretty simple question: ‘who are these banks you’re talking about?” 

Rogovin says his company is likely to lose contracts for 5 bridges in Africa because commercial banks will not invest in such products and the EXIM bank is now very limited in how much it will loan or guarantee.  

Rogovin says Ohio companies are at a disadvantage when some 100 other import-export banks around the world help win contracts for other countries.