“NO” on Reauthorization or Extension of the Export-Import Bank (H.J. Res. 124)

Last night, the House released text of the Continuing Appropriations Resolution (H.J. Res. 124), which would fund the government through December 11, 2014.  Despite widespread calls for a “clean” continuing resolution, the proposal would also reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, as President Obama requested, until June 30, 2015.

Despite his current affinity for the Ex-Im Bank, President Obama once denounced the bank, saying it “has become little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”  That characterization is undeniable — participating banks call it “free money” and multinational conglomerates like Boeing, Caterpillar and General Electric account for the bulk of the bank’s financing.  Boeing, for example, received roughly two-thirds of the bank’s loan guarantees in 2013.

“NO” on Reauthorization or Extension of the Export-Import Bank

According to press reports, the House will consider a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) this week.  On Friday, President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) explicitly asked Congress to attach an extension of the Export-Import Bank to the CR.  If the Republican-controlled House complies with the President’s request, the short-term government funding bill would not be “clean.”  Heritage Action opposes the reauthorization or extension of the Ex-Im Bank, either as a standalone measure or attached to another piece of legislation.

Despite his current affinity for the Ex-Im Bank, President Obama once denounced the bank, saying it “has become little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”  That characterization is undeniable — participating banks call it “free money” and multinational conglomerates like Boeing, Caterpillar and General Electric account for the bulk of the bank’s financing.  Boeing, for example, received roughly two-thirds of the bank’s loan guarantees in 2013.

“YES” on Strong DACA Language (H.R. 5272)

Today, the House will vote on an amendment, introduced in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 5272.  The amendment, introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Marsha Blackburn73%House Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard73%, would essentially freeze President Obama’s unlawful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by denying the use of any additional federal funds or resources.

When President Obama released his initial request earlier this month, Heritage Action called it “a non-starter because it sought to address the symptoms, not the cause.”  James Carafano, Ph.D., vice president of foreign and defense studies at The Heritage Foundation, said DACA must go:

“The president’s 2012 policy for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, regardless of the Oval Office’s intent, sets a precedent that encourages further unlawful migration, particularly among minors. It leaves those in the program mired in uncertainty as to their future status. It resolves nothing, encourages the problem to grow and is a detriment to establishing fair, consistent and sustainable immigration policy. Dumping DACA, on the other hand, would send a strong and unequivocal signal there is no advantage in rushing to the U.S. to shortcut the line and receive legal authorization to remain here.”

“NO” on Miller-Sanders Veterans Bill (H.R. 3230)

Today, the House will vote on the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230). The conference committee report, agreed to by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Jeff Miller72%House Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard72% and Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Bernard Sanders6%Senate Independent AverageSee Full Scorecard6%, would, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), increase direct spending by $15 billion over 10 years. Of that cost, $10 billion in emergency mandatory funding would go towards an external care option for vets who face wait times of longer than 30 days or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility. The remaining $5 billion would expand existing VA operations and other miscellaneous veterans-related programs. This $5 billion would be offset over 10 years from reforms within the VA, though the merits of those offsets are highly questionable.

Though the CBO’s recent projection reflects a total emergency cost of $10 billion, properly understood, the conference committee’s solution to the VA’s systemic inefficiencies amounts to the creation of a new entitlement that will likely increase at a rapid rate.

“NO” on Swalwell’s Rare Earth Mineral Bill (H.R. 1022)

Today, the House is scheduled to vote on the Securing Energy Critical Elements and American Jobs Act of 2013 (H.R. 1022), which is on the suspension calendar.  Introduced by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Eric Swalwell13%House Democrat AverageSee Full Scorecard13%, the bill — which did not go through the committee process — would “create a number of taxpayer-supported government programs to extract and recycle domestic rare earth minerals” to “address price volatility for rare earths.”  While Congress may be justified in gathering information through basic research on energy-critical elements, subsidizing mining, production, or refinement of rare earth elements is not justifiable and would have adverse effects on markets in the future.

The approach in H.R. 1022 is misguided.  The Heritage Foundation explains rather than creating a new government program and subsidizing “technologies the private sector won’t invest in without a handout, the government should open access to the 13 states where rare earths lie and establish an efficient regulatory pathway that provides companies the certainty needed to extract REEs.”