Ex-Im Bank: Job Creator, or Corporate Welfare?

Roll Call interviews Rep. Chris Stewart about his change of heart on the Export-Import Bank issue, which has produced a wedge between pro-business and libertarian Republicans.

Reports Simone Pathé:

Rep. Chris Stewart represents Utah’s solidly red 2nd District. And he sounds like it.

“Oh yeah, duh,” he told CQ Roll Call when asked whether he thought the free market could do a better job than the government promoting U.S. exports overseas. “I’m a conservative Republican.”

But his thinking on whether Congress should reauthorize the Export-Import Bank hasn’t always been so clear cut. Despite his 74 percent lifetime conservative rating from the Club for Growth, Stewart didn’t fall in line with the group’s push to kill the Export-Import Bank — its charter expires on June 30 — until several weeks ago.

In fact, in late April, he received the Spirit of Enterprise Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — one of the biggest proponents of reauthorizing the bank — for supporting “pro-job policies.”

His evolution on the issue says a lot about the Export-Import Bank — namely how it split conservative Republicans — and about how outside groups such as the club and the chamber targeted representatives on an issue that’s poorly understood and easily spun.