Ex-Im Bank included on White House budget hit list

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Export-Import Bank is among nine federal programs targeted for elimination under a hit list the White House Office of Management and Budget circulated this week, according to The New York Times.

The paper says it obtained an internal OMB memo that identifies roughly $2.5 billion in annual savings by eliminating the Ex-Im Bank, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and several others.

OMB, which drafts the president’s annual budget request, aims to finalize the list by March 13, according to The Times.

Congress would have a chance to weigh in when President Donald  Trump sends his budget to Capitol Hill this spring.

While the hit list could change, the inclusion of the Ex-Im Bank is sure to disappoint aerospace companies, among others, that rely on the bank’s below-market financing to sell products such as satellite and airplanes abroad.

Congress let the bank shut down for several months in 2015 until proponents mustered sufficient votes to reauthorizate the executive branch agency. Still, Republicans who deride the bank as “corporate welfare” prevented the Obama administration from filling board vacancies that limit the bank to making loans of $10 million or less.

Trump’s visit to a Boeing plant in South Carolina Friday raised hopes that the president’s speech would include a call for restoring the bank’s full lending authority.

Though Trump said he would “level the playing field” for American workers, he made no mention of the Ex-Im Bank.