Hillary Clinton offered rare words of encouragement to the Republican-led House of Representatives on Wednesday, praising lawmakers for reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank on Tuesday after its charter was allowed to lapse last summer.
“I was relieved yesterday to see that the House finally voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank,” the Democratic frontrunner said at a New Hampshire forum. “Now the Senate needs to do exactly the same.”
“For the life of me, I don’t understand the arguments” against the Ex-Im Bank, Clinton continued, arguing that a lack of federal loan guarantees provided to U.S. businesses would put American exporters at a disadvantage abroad. “We need to stand up for this very simple idea. We need to support our businesses to export. You think it would be a no-brainer.”
Clinton first defended the bank eleven months ago, as a coalition of liberal Democrats and tea-party Republicans sought to dismantle it. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s top rival for the Democratic nod, voted against its reauthorization last June, calling it “corporate welfare.”
#share#Clinton has recently tacked left on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the Keystone pipeline, two proposals that have strong bipartisan support but are opposed by the far Left of the Democratic party. To many observers, her recent opposition is attributable to the success of Sanders’s protectionist, anti-corporate economic message.
#related#By opposing Sanders on the Ex-Im Bank at this crucial juncture, Clinton is signaling that she’ll go only so far in her bid to court the progressive wing of the Democratic party. “Whether for ideological or political reasons, there are people in Washington against it,” she said on Wednesday. “And that makes absolutely no sense.”
Beyond drawing a contrast with Sanders, Clinton may have other reasons to support the Ex-Im Bank’s reauthorization. The bank’s chairman, Fred Hochberg, is a longtime friend and former campaign bundler for Clinton’s failed 2008 campaign. And the largest loan in the bank’s history is tied extensively to the Clintons’ byzantine network of public and private connections.