Removing Barriers Blog

McWatters Nominated for Board of Export-Import Bank
Posted January 12, 2016 by CUNA Advocacy

Yesterday, President Obama announced his intention to nominate NCUA Boardmember J. Mark McWatters to the board of directors of the US Export-Import Bank.

 Forecasting confirmation is extremely complicated, but here is what we think it means:

 Boardmember McWatters will remain on the NCUA Board until he is confirmed by the Senate, and it seems unlikely the Senate will confirm McWatters before March.  We base this on the fact that Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby has essentially said the committee will be dark until after Alabama’s March 1 primary election.  Having said that, inasmuch as McWatters has already been confirmed by the Senate once, his chances of ultimately being confirmed to the Export-Import Bank seem strong, provided there are no unrelated political issues.

 On its face, the nomination also seems to help solve some problems for both the administration and opponents of the Export-Import Bank.  At the present time, the five-person Export-Import Bank board of directors has only two confirmed members, meaning it is unable to establish a quorum and unable to approve loan guarantees larger than $10 million.  If the Senate confirmed a third director, the Board would be able to establish a quorum.  The president had nominated a Democrat to the Bank’s board, but the nomination was withdrawn after it stalled in the face of the politicking over reauthorization of the bank.  Opposition to the Bank’s reauthorization was led by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, on whose staff Mr. McWatters once served.  By nominating Mr. McWatters, a Republican, to the Export-Import Bank board, the president may be getting a functioning Export-Import Bank board.  And, opponents of the bank’s reauthorization may get a voice and a vote on the board.

 At this point, we believe the president is unlikely to nominate someone to replace McWatters on the NCUA Board until after he is confirmed to the Export-Import Bank.  The timeline for the McWatters’ nomination combined with the fact that Chairman Matz’s term has expired could mean the position remains open into the next administration.