In Reversal, Trump Names Pick to Reshape Export-Import Bank, Not End It

In Reversal, Trump Names Pick to Reshape Export-Import Bank, Not End It

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Scott Garrett, who was a founding Freedom Caucus member in the House and a fierce critic of the Ex-Im Bank, has been nominated to serve as president of the agency’s board.

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Gary Cameron/Reuters

During his campaign for president, Donald J. Trump hinted that he would get rid of the Export-Import Bank, saying that the agency that helps finance American exports was “excess baggage.”

But in a reversal of his campaign promise, on Friday the president nominated two members to the bank’s board: Former Representatives Scott Garrett of New Jersey and Spencer T. Bachus of Alabama.

Mr. Garrett, an arch conservative who was a founding member of the Tea Party-aligned Freedom Caucus in the House, was nominated to serve as president of the board, according to a White House statement on Friday night. Mr. Bachus, a former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was nominated as the fifth member of the board.

Mr. Bachus was known in the House as a pragmatic moderate. Both men must be confirmed by Senate.

Mr. Trump said in an interview this week he no longer wanted to eliminate the Export-Import Bank, adding that he planned to fill two openings on the board, which has five members.

“Actually, it’s a very good thing. And it actually makes money; it can make a lot of money,” Mr. Trump told The Wall Street Journal.

“It turns out that, first of all, lots of small companies are really helped, the vendor companies,” he said, adding that other countries give similar assistance. “When other countries give it we lose a tremendous amount of business.”

If confirmed, Mr. Garrett would be an unusual president of the agency. When he was in Congress, Mr. Garrett called it “a bank that embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system.”

The 83-year-old Export-Import Bank, which lends to foreign buyers of United States goods, helping to make them more competitive globally, has been hobbled because of partisan fighting over how it should operate. It has come under fire from conservatives who have called it corporate welfare and crony capitalism.

In 2015, congressional conservatives won a temporary shutdown of the agency, freezing it for five months. It reopened in December of that year when President Barack Obama signed legislation as part of a highway bill that extended the agency’s operations until September 2019. But it still lacked a quorum — with three empty seats on its five-member board — blocking deals worth more than $10 million.

Mr. Garrett, a member of the House of Representatives from 2003 to the start of this year, has served on both the House Budget Committee and the House Financial Services Committee.

Mr. Bachus, who supported the Export-Import Bank’s reauthorization, served in the House of Representatives from 1993 to 2015.

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