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Congress actually cooperates, reauthorizes Ex-Im Bank

May 30, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • President Obama signs the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank during an event at the White House.
President Obama signs the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank during… (Alex Wong / Getty Images )

WASHINGTON -- President Obama has signed into law a bill reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, saying the rare example of bipartisan cooperation should be a model for a future legislation.

Reauthorizing the bank, which helps U.S. exporters compete with foreign companies, was a relatively easy lift for this perpetually deadlocked Congress. While it was a point of contention within the Republican Party, it enjoyed solid support among Democrats, not to mention powerful parts of the business lobby.

Democrats and Republicans eventually came together to overcome objections from tea party conservatives, who argue that the bank meddles in the free market to the advantage of some companies and disadvantage of others.

Some have dubbed it the "Bank of Boeing" because it has helped foreign airlines buy Boeing aircraft, which they use to compete with domestic carriers. Obama made a public push for the bank in March, using the Boeing plant as a backdrop.

On Wednesday, Obama jumped on the rare legislative victory to revive his economic message.

“America can either settle for an economy where just a few are doing well and a lot of folks are struggling to get by, or we can build the kind of economy where everybody is getting a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules,” the president said. “By reauthorizing support for the Export-Import Bank, we’re helping thousands of businesses sell more of their products and services overseas and, in the process, we’re helping them create jobs here at home.”

If Congress was looking for what to tackle next, Obama offered his much-touted “to-do” list. The president has been touring the country promoting the five proposals, which he says should have bipartisan support and should be passed quickly. Congress hasn’t exactly jumped at the suggestion.

“My message to Congress is thank you and congratulations on authorizing Ex-Im Bank to continue on its extraordinary mission,” Obama said Wednesday. “We’ve got more work to do.  I hope this ends up being a model for the kind of progress that we can make in the months to come and the years to come.”

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

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