Washington (APP) —In a Rose Garden press conference today, President Barack Obama introduced Art Vandelay as his choice to head the troubled Export Import Bank for a five-year term, pending approval by the Senate.
The shake-up comes as Congress debates whether or not to extend the bank’s authorization amid heavy opposition from conservative and libertarian groups led by Heritage Action for America.
Mr. Vandelay brings almost 30 years of experience in the export-import business, where he traded in commodities as varied as potato chips, diapers, and matches.
Critics point out that, for much of his career in export-import, Vandelay ignored exports, focusing only on imports.
“At the time—the 1990s—I felt imports were the way to go. But I never abandoned my roots in the full export-import ecosystem,” Vandelay told reporters.
President Obama praised Mr. Vandelay’s courage in abandoning exports just when demand for American diapers was surging in the 1990s. “Art Vandelay defied his critics, including his girlfriend at the time, to do what he thought was right for his business and his country.”
Mike Needham, CEO of Heritage Action, dismissed the President’s praise, saying, “It’s no coincidence that Vandelay’s company benefited from numerous Ex-Im loans during the Clinton administration. We’ve seen numerous reports that companies like his received favors from the Export Import Bank during Hillary Clinton’s tenure at State Department. His appointment just highlights the crony nature of the bank.”
Vandelay’s tour of duty with the bank could be short-lived. If Congress fails to extend the bank’s authorization by June 30, automatic wind-down provisions will kick in and the bank will be unable to create new loans or loan guarantees. Experts on Capitol Hill believe conservative lawmakers have the upper hand and the bank will sunset.
Here’s more on Art Vandelay, via Seinfeld:
Join Heritage Action and St. Louis Tea Party to learn more about Export Import on Saturday at 4:15 on the roof of Paddy O’s by the ball park.