On June 30 at midnight or July 1 at 12.01 a.m., the Export-Import Bank’s charter will expire for the first time in 81 years. I hear a lot of people suggesting this isn’t such a big deal since it could still be reauthorized down the road.
But that’s underselling what just happened: The bank may get reauthorized after a while, but it may not. If its advocates don’t manage to attach it to the passage of a new highway-funding bill (an irresponsible strategy, as it happens), it should become clear enough that the world isn’t going to come to an end without the bank. The fact that Ex-Im is expiring for the first time shows that the influence of corporate interests is not what it used to be, and it’ll take some real effort for them to save the bank.
The news is also a big deal because, by law, starting on Wednesday morning, the bank should begin working on an “orderly liquidation.” According to a CRS report from last November, that leaves two jobs to the bank: Administer existing loans and guarantees and accept payments, and “undertake activities that it considers to be implicated in the methodical settlement of its affairs.”
That, I assume, means getting rid of the people who are occupied with, say, setting up new loans and guarantees, since they’re not needed any longer. Certainly, an agency that’s going through liquidation, even though an orderly one, shouldn’t maintain its whole workforce. Downsizing the bank should begin on Wednesday and no later.
I wonder whether Representative Jim Jordan is planning an Oversight hearing to make sure that the bank is proceeding according to the law, not according what it (and the White House) hopes happens down the road.