People might say bipartisanship is missing in the nation’s capital, but you wouldn’t know it if you paid attention to the Export-Import Bank’s annual conference this week in Washington, DC.
Lawmakers and former lawmakers from both parties made clear their support for the Ex-Im Bank, the small agency that facilitates the sale of U.S.-made products abroad. Here’s a brief overview of their comments on Ex-Im:
- ”The Export-Import Bank helps families across the country–there are 1.3 million jobs supported by the Export-Import Bank,” said former Virginia Senator and Governor George Allen (R), in support of reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank.
- “The Bank is absolutely critical if we’re going to be competitive in a global world,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). Senator Heitkamp has cosponsored bipartisan legislation to provide a long-term reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank, the Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2015 (S. 819). Last month, the NAM sent a letter to all Senate offices in March in support of the bill.
- “It’s just a necessary tool to be competitive,” said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), who sits on the House Committee on Financial Services. In his Oklahoma congressional district, Rep. Lucas represents companies that have utilized Ex-Im Bank to support $34 million in exports.
- The Ex-Im Bank is supporting jobs, “supporting our economy, helping us to export, and putting money into the Treasury,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). Rep. Waters is the ranking member on the House Committee on Financial Services, and she has strongly supported efforts to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank.
They’re not alone in their support for Ex-Im Bank reauthorization. Last week, Govs. Robert Bentley (R-AL) and Jay Inslee (D-WA) led a bipartisan group of governors in sending a letter to congressional leaders to urge the long-term reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. In addition to the 28 governors who cosigned the joint letter, state leaders from North Carolina, Missouri, Maryland and Iowa recently sent individual letters to congressional leaders requesting action to reauthorize the bank. On Capitol Hill, there are four bills from lawmakers in both parties in the House and the Senate to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank. If Congress doesn’t act soon, U.S. companies and workers will lose ground to competitors abroad.
While the Ex-Im Bank’s charter doesn’t expire until June 30, uncertainty about its future is already causing harm to U.S. companies and workers.
Rep. Waters read aloud today a letter that the California-based energy company FirmGreen received last year. In it, a South Korean company said it believes FirmGreen has the best technology and best product.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to win the contract. Because there’s no guarantee that the Ex-Im Bank will be around to help with financing, the company told FirmGreen that it will instead have to work with a foreign company backed by a foreign export credit agency (ECA).
That’s just one example of the potential harm to come if Congress doesn’t vote on Ex-Im. There are at least 60 ECAs – counterparts to the U.S. Ex-Im Bank – in countries like China and Russia as well as Canada, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom.
If Congress fails to act on an Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, companies and workers in foreign countries will benefit and U.S. workers and companies will be hurt. As Rep. Lucas said today, if Ex-Im went away, U.S. competitors “would just smile to ear to ear.”