As many Senate Republicans continue to oppose holding hearings for President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby to move the White House’s nomination to the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors, according to a GOP Senate staffer.
The staffer told The Daily Signal that McConnell, R-Ky., has been pressuring Shelby, R-Ala., to move on nominee Mark McWatters, nominated to the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors in January.
Shelby isn’t planning to budge, the staffer told The Daily Signal.
McConnell’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Sending McWatters’ nomination to the full Senate for consideration—where he would likely be confirmed—would bring Ex-Im one step closer to resuming business as usual.
The controversial agency was reauthorized late last year following a nearly five-month lapse in its charter. Since its reauthorization, Ex-Im has been crippled in its ability to extend financing to some of its largest beneficiaries, including Boeing and General Electric, because of empty seats on its board of directors.
Ex-Im’s five-member board must approve all transactions that exceed $10 million and needs a quorum—three active members—to do so. Currently, just two seats on the panel are filled, and the Banking Committee sat on Obama’s nomination of Patricia Loui-Schmicker to a second term on the board for 10 months before the president withdrew her nomination in January.
The White House sent Shelby’s committee a second nominee, McWatters, a Republican, at the beginning of the year. Like Loui-Schmicker, though, his nomination has not moved through the committee either.
Despite McConnell’s urging for Shelby to move on nominations to the board, the bank’s inability to approve transactions of more than $10 million doesn’t impact its financing for small businesses. The bank’s supporters in Congress have long stressed that Ex-Im is crucial for small businesses, specifically, as it helps them expand into global markets.