Trump's nominee to head the Export-Import Bank once voted to eliminate it

In this April 4, 2017, file photo, President Trump listens to a question during a town hall with business leaders in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington.

AP

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Friday tapped former Congressman Scott Garrett, who once voted to effectively eliminate the very organization he wants to run, to run the Export-Import Bank, the nation’s official export credit agency. 

The White House announced Garrett’s nomination, but less than two years ago in October 2015, the New Jersey Republican voted against reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank, calling it a “corporate welfare program. The House reauthorized it. If confirmed, Garrett would serve a four-year term. 

Trump also nominated another former member of Congress -- Alabama Republican Spencer Bachus -- to be an Ex-Im Bank board member. Bachus has supported the bank’s reauthorization in the past. 

Garrett isn’t the only one who has seemingly shifted his stance on the Ex-Im Bank. Mr. Trump said the organization should die off during the campaign, but this week said he’d changed his mind and now believes the system produces jobs. 

“Instinctively, you would say, ‘Isn’t that a ridiculous thing,’” Trump told The Wall Street Journal. “But actually, it’s a very good thing. And it actually makes money, it could make a lot of money.”

The bank, with roots dating back to the New Deal, primarily finances U.S. companies trying to sell products overseas when private funding can’t be found. 

Conservatives have heaped criticism on the bank in recent years, decrying it as a form of corporate welfare. Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a longtime critic of the bank, tweeted displeasure about the Ex-Im Bank moments after the White House announced Garrett’s nomination.

This is not the first time Mr. Trump, who campaigned on promises to “drain the swamp” of Washington, has faced criticism about one of his nominees. In December, Mr. Trump tapped Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn to be his chief economic adviser.

Garret had at one time been one of the biggest beneficiaries of Wall Street money, according to Open Secrets. He lost re-election in 2016 after seven term in Congress -- when major Wall Street donors dropped him when he told fellow Republican lawmakers he wouldn’t support GOP congressional campaign division because it supported openly gay candidates, according to Bloomberg News.