Yesterday, President Obama signed into law a bill that included a multi-year reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, effectively re-opening the bank’s doors after a five-month lapse. As NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons put it, ““This is a victory for manufacturers of all sizes as well as for workers here in the United States. The Ex-Im Bank is critical to keeping America competitive in the global economy.”
While the Ex-Im Bank has been a priority issue of the NAM for years, this past year required extra effort due to a small but vocal minority opposition in Congress. However, due to the tremendous effort from manufacturers across from the country—many of whom took time out of their busy schedules to travel to Washington and meet with their lawmakers— the reality that jobs and global competitiveness were on the line finally prevailed. As a standalone measure, Ex-Im Bank reauthorization previously passed both the House and Senate with large, bipartisan support.
Hundreds of companies told the story of how Ex-Im Bank helped them take advantage of opportunities overseas, providing testimonials for the Exporters for Ex-Im Coalition page and the NAM’s “Exporters for Ex-Im” series. These real-world examples humanized an issue that opponents tried to mire in abstract arguments. You can read more about how Ex-Im Bank’s program have helped companies like Jenny’s Pickles, Air Tractor, International Green Structures and Manhasset Specialty Company. More importantly, the NAM amplified those stories and made sure they were getting to the policymakers who needed to hear them most.
You don’t need to be a cynic to acknowledge how difficult it is to make your voice heard above the din in Washington. But manufacturers persisted, even travelling from across the country to join the NAM for press conferences with lawmakers, briefings for Congressional staff, roundtables at the White House, individual meetings with their Representatives and Senators and Capitol Hill hearings. NAM experts, manufacturing executives and lawmakers alike issued countless op-eds, letters to the editor, interviews and tweets. With this week’s news, it’s clear – now more than ever – that our voices can be heard.
The NAM bolstered these grassroots efforts with hard data, releasing two reports, “Forfeiting Opportunity” and “The Global Export Credit Dimension” that highlighted the importance of Ex-Im Bank to manufacturers. In October, the NAM highlighted the opportunities that were lost when Ex-Im’s charter lapsed on July 1 and customers overseas turned to the 83 other official Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) abroad.
Key state and local officials – including a bipartisan majority of the nation’s Governors, dozens of Mayors and the organization that represents thousands of counties across the country – demonstrated their support for this export promotion tool and weighed in with support for a long-term reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank.
We don’t have room here to detail all of the hard work that went into carrying Ex-Im’s reauthorization across the finish line, but manufacturers applaud the leadership Congress showed by finally passing an Ex-Im reauthorization. Now we have the opportunity to continue to compete and innovate along with the rest of the world. As Tom Riordan, Neenah Enterprises, Inc. President and CEO and NAM Small and Medium Manufacturers Group Chair put it yesterday, “We’re glad that Congress finally listened to the voices of manufacturers. We will never be afraid to speak out and hold our leaders accountable when congressional action—or inaction—threatens our competitiveness.”