U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt said Wednesday that Congress has important work remaining when the House and Senate return to Washington, D.C., after the traditional August recess, including consideration of extending the Export-Import Bank’s charter, an important issue to the Business Council of Alabama.
Aderholt, R-Haleyville, who is unopposed in November for a 10th term since no Democrat qualified for the seat, will be the dean of the state’s seven-member House delegation in January.
During a conference call with members of the Business Council of Alabama’s Governmental Affairs Committee, Aderholt discussed issues to be considered after the House and Senate return to Washington, D.C., in September.
In addition to the Ex-Im Bank, unresolved issues include immigration, IRS targeting of certain political groups, militant attacks, NASA funding, and Environmental Protection Agency overreach.
The Export-Import Bank is the official export credit agency of the United States. In Alabama it has supported 58 companies, more than 3,900 jobs, and $622 million in exports over the last seven years. It needs Congressional and presidential approval in order to continue.
“I have not committed one way or another on that,” Aderholt said, adding that he is scheduled to meet with supporters of the bank later this month. “And I don’t know the feeling of the full Congress on that point … but people are starting to hear from constituents this August.”
The BCA is a member of the Ex-Im Coalition that supports continuation of the Ex-Im Bank. Its current charter expires Sept. 30.
Aderholt, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, said seven of 12 spending bills have been passed by the House. If they don’t pass the Senate, he expects a continuing resolution to keep current funding active until new bills can be passed.
“We will keep government open, not like last year when it was shut down,” Aderholt said.
He said the House continues to seek answers from the Obama Administration on the IRS’s targeting of conservatives. “That will continue to be an issue as we try to find out from the administration what is going on,” Aderholt said.
He said the House also is concerned about the 2012 Islamic militant attack on the Benghazi, Libya, diplomatic compound. “Most people feel there’s been no straight answer coming out of those hearings,” he said, likening House Benghazi oversight hearings to the Watergate hearings in the 1970s and Iran-Contra hearings in the 1980s.
Aderholt said a House bill to close a loophole in the child trafficking law has been sent to the Senate, which he expects to be taken up after the August break.
The original child trafficking law has a loophole that allows tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors to remain in the United States for years while their immigration cases wind through a screening process meant to safeguard children from the horrors of sex traffickers and other illegal activities.
The immigration loophole legislation would streamline the cases so they can be decided in weeks instead of years, Aderholt said.
Aderholt praised President Obama for sending aid to oppressed minorities in Iraq and Syria who face harm from Muslim extremists who want an Islamic state of Iraq and Syria. “This will be an issue when we come back,” Aderholt said.
Aderholt said he believes that President Obama does not support NASA “in the way we know it in the past.” The NASA installation in Huntsville is a mainstay of the north Alabama economy.
Aderholt said he shared the concerns of business trying to deal with overreaching and punitive EPA regulations that are harmful to industry. “They have certainly gone beyond what originally was set up,” he said.
President Obama has an unsympathetic ear to problems caused by the pending regulations but with a Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate, there’s little hope for change until the November general election. “The best way to (remove regulations) is to change the Senate in the fall,” he said.
Aderholt is a member of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, which oversees funding for federal government operations, and several subcommittees.