It appears that President Trump is finally going to fail to get one of his disruptive, regressive, ill-suited agency nominees through the Senate confirmation process despite Republican control of the Congress.
Trump’s problem is with his pick, former Congressman Scott Garrett, who he nominated to run the Export-Import Bank, according to POLITICO.
Garrett has run into problems with Democrats and some Republicans because when he served in the House he worked tirelessly to kill the bank which provides loans to facilitate sales to foreigners of American products and services.
“Before losing reelection in his New Jersey district last year,” reports Politico, “Garrett said the bank ’embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system.'”
If his nomination is scuttled, it would be a rare loss for the spineless Republicans in the House who generally vote however Trump demands.
When Trump picked former Texas governor Rick Perry to run the Energy Department, even though he had said it should be closed, and when he picked Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency even though he sued to stop it as Attorney General of Oklahoma, the Senate still rubber stamped Trump’s choice.
The difference this time is that there are powerful business interests, including large corporations like Boeing, who depend on the Export-Import Bank to make loans to their customers in order to boost their business – and have valid concerns that under Garrett it would grind to a halt.
Garrett denies he will bring to the job his longtime desire to shut the bank down – but that has not alleviated the concerns about his fitness for the role.
One of the non-believers is Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) who has announced he will oppose Garrett’s appointment when it comes before the Senate Banking Committee on December 19.
“I believe him to be a proponent of the abolition of the bank rather than a reformer of the bank,” Rounds told Politico.
Rounds concern is that small contractors in his state would be hurt if their large customers lost access to financing their deals with foreign buyers.
That committee is composed of 12 Republicans and 11 Democrats, all of whom are expected to oppose Garrett. So losing one Republican vote should kill his nomination.
Another banking committee member, Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), has also signaled that he might oppose Garrett, because his home state has big plants run by Boeing, GE and others who have been longtime users of the bank.
Scott has not yet said how he will vote on Garrett claiming he is currently too preoccupied with finishing the tax bill to focus on it.
Garrett is Trump’s kind of Republican.
“Garrett has a long history of making radical statements and casting votes that are offensive to people of all stripes,” reported Think Progress. “He once said that ‘ethnicities’ are inherently untrustworthy…He refused to support …the Women Against Violence Act. Garret also wants to privatize social security and voted against disaster relief for his home state after Hurricane Sandy, calling it “wasteful spending.”
The White House has said it will not withdraw Garrett’s nomination, and it expects the nominee will be voted on by the committee. There have been reports that if he doesn’t get the bank job, Garrett will be chosen to replace Mick Mulvaney
The administration believes it has a trump card. While some Republicans oppose Garrett, others like Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Richard Shelby of Alabama have threatened to stop any other nominee to the same job if Garrett is not approved.
Little of this is good news for Democrats over the long term. This is Republicans battling with Republicans who are backed by big business, and ultimately someone Trump does like will get the job.
In 2015, the Ex-Im Bank actually shut down for four months after conservatives in Congress – mostly Republicans – said the believed that the bank was a form of corporate welfare that only benefits larger exporters like Boeing and G.E. while leaving taxpayers to pick up the bills if there are losses on the deals.
At one time Trump was also an opponent of the Ex-Im Bank but has since changed his mind.
Now Trump and the Republicans have come around to agree with the giant companies who use the bank to facilitate huge sales of things like airplanes and electric turbines, but it looks like Garrett will not be the one to facilitate the deals.
The Wall St. Journal reported on December 1 that because of a lack of leadership at the Ex-Im Bank, there are over $37 billion in deals that have been stalled.
It is a short-term victory for Trump’s opponents, but considering how often he is able to jam through nominees and judges, any win is worth celebrating.