New House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy does not have plans to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank's lending authority when it expires in September, he said Sunday -- setting up a likely fierce battle between conservative Republicans and the president.
The bank, which grants credit to help finance American exports, is viewed as vital by the president, many Democrats and a range of pro-business groups because other countries, such as China, help finance their own exports in a similar fashion.
But conservatives fought the bank's reauthorization in 2012. McCarthy seemed to take up their mantle Sunday on Fox News, saying such lending "is something government does not have to be involved in."
"The private sector can do it," McCarthy explained, adding he does not plan to support reauthorization later this year.
McCarthy's stance marks a stark break from that of his predecessor in the majority leader role, Eric Cantor -- who lost his spot in Congress this month with a shocking defeat in his party's primary.
In 2012, Cantor played a prominent role among Republicans in brokering a deal with Democrats to keep the bank running as it faced shutting down. The deal authorized an increased lending limit with the guarantee of new reporting requirements, and received vigorous lobbying support from groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who feared America could face a competitive disadvantage to other countries were the bank to shutter.
Many Republicans at the time stood with Cantor in support of the deal, in spite of vocal opposition from the conservative wing of the party.