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Trump picks housing finance reform advocate Scott Garrett to lead Ex-Im Bank

Formerly served on House Financial Services Committee

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The White House announced Friday that President Donald Trump selected Scott Garrett, who formerly served in a prominent role on the House Financial Services Committee and was a long-time advocate for housing finance reform, to serve as the president of the Export-Import Bank.

Garrett represented New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District in the House of Representatives from 2003 through 2015, when Democrat Josh Gottheimer defeated him in a race that received significant national attention.

Prior to his defeat, Garrett served as chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, and used his position to push for housing finance reform.

Garrett was one of the sponsors of the Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners (PATH) Act of 2013, which would have ended the taxpayer-funded bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and phased out the enterprises within five years.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was another of Garrett’s frequent targets.

After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s landmark ruling in October that declared the CFPB’s leadership structure unconstitutional and vacated a $103 million fine against mortgage lender PHH, Garrett told his constituents that the CFPB was hurting consumers, not helping them.

“Everything from mortgages, to car loans, to retirement savings, the CFPB’s current structure allows it to unilaterally infringe on the economic choices of every American,” Garrett wrote in an email to his constituents.

“With a single, politically appointed head and its ability to bypass Congress to get funding, the CFPB acts as a rogue federal bureaucracy,” Garrett continues. “And while the CFPB has an important mission, it’s unacceptable to allow a single government agency to control how Americans can spend their own money.”

Garrett also supported the Financial CHOICE Act, the Republican-crafted plan to replace the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. The Financial CHOICE Act is being championed by Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, who Garrett worked closely with during his time in the House.

Now, Trump is nominating Garrett to lead the Ex-Im Bank, which provides U.S. businesses with government-backed loans that help the companies sell their products outside of the U.S.

As the Wall Street Journal recapped here, Garrett voted against renewing the Ex-Im Bank’s charter on several occasions.

From the WSJ:

The Ex-Im Bank “rewards those with close relationships with Washington bureaucrats,” Mr. Garrett said in 2015. “For the sake of the American taxpayer and the preservation of the free enterprise system, Congress should put the Export-Import Bank out of business.”

The Trump administration also nominated Spencer Bachus, who served in the House from 1993-2015, to serve as a member of the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank.

In a statement, Hensarling said both Garrett and Bachus will help reform the Ex-Im Bank, which has been frequently criticized by Republicans.

“While Ex-Im's subsidies to foreign competitors continue to threaten free enterprise here at home, I can think of no one more qualified than Scott Garrett and Spencer Bachus to steer the institution towards reform,” Hensarling said in a statement.

“Having worked with both of these gentlemen closely on the Financial Services Committee, I am hopeful they will safeguard taxpayer dollars and put an end to the Bank's well-documented management failures,” Hensarling said. “With Ex-Im so captured by special interests, the President was right to choose principled leaders like these to safeguard the agency against further mission creep, fraud, waste and abuse.”

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