U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher’s fight to keep a little-known federal agency from going out of business has left the amiable West Tennessean Republican in an unusual place, according to Michael Collins.
He’s at odds with members of his own party over the future of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. And he’s not backing down.
“I understand some of my colleagues have an issue maybe with ideology — they have a problem with the bank’s existence,” Fincher said. “But we have to deal with reality. We are sent to Washington to represent our constituents and do all we can for them, and not to shut down the world.”
Fincher, a conservative who represents Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District, is leading the charge in the U.S. House to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which provides government assistance in the form of loans, loan guarantees or export insurance to companies that sell their goods around the world.
In Tennessee alone, the bank has provided $1 billion in assistance to dozens of businesses over the past eight years and has backed $1 billion in exports from those companies.
The bank’s critics, many of whom are tea party conservatives, call that corporate welfare and are refusing to renew the agency’s charter, which expires June 30.
Ex-Im, as it’s known in government-speak, will shut down at the end of the month unless Congress acts. Gone will be programs that American companies say enable them to compete with foreign businesses that get similar help from their own governments. And gone, Fincher says, will be American jobs.
“This is all about jobs,” Fincher said. “It’s all about America being competitive with the rest of the world. If our economy is going to get up and running again, we’ve got to make sure we do everything possible to keep people working. That’s what the Ex-Im Bank does.”