U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, should remember her home state’s interests and make a strong statement in favor of the federal Export-Import Bank. It would require a political courage that has been lacking in her Republican colleagues, but a lot is at stake in her Eastern Washington district.
National politics are the problem for the Ex-Im Bank, an obscure federal institution that supports thousands of jobs in Washington state with loans, loan guarantees and credit services. Without reauthorization, the bank dies Oct. 1. The Ex-Im Bank doesn’t cost taxpayers a cent, every other country of the developed world offers something like it and it is of particular importance in trade-dependent Washington state — Boeing is the bank’s biggest customer.
But U.S. House Republican leaders are running scared. They have been casting worried glances to the right ever since House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost to a tea-party candidate in a Virginia primary this month. An arch-conservative faction starved for ideological victories of late have been targeting the Ex-Im Bank, and many draw a direct connection between Cantor’s loss and the bank. Already, the new leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, says he is willing to let it die.
This is why McMorris Rodgers’ silence is so troubling. Reauthorization of the bank is so clearly in Washington’s interest that every other delegation member has declared support, Democrats and Republicans alike. But McMorris Rodgers, the GOP conference chair, is the only member serving in Republican leadership. So far, she has told her district’s largest newspaper, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane), that she supports “a way forward” — and has managed to dodge the question. Her signature was conspicuously absent from a letter supporting the bank signed by 41 Republican members Monday. Washington’s other three had no trouble signing on.
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In McMorris Rodgers’ district, the Ex-Im Bank supported $62 million in exports from 14 companies over the last six years. A statement from her could have quite an impact. She should stand up for her state.
Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).