The U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank has operated for decades with a mission to support U.S. jobs through exports. Back in April, President Donald Trump confirmed his support for the export credit agency. In 2015, a bipartisan supermajority in Congress voted to reauthorize the agency through 2019. Who would want to stand in opposition to this small federal agency with an outsized, tangible benefit for the U.S. economy? Unfortunately, a former congressman who has been nominated to lead the agency is just that person. Former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), the nominee to lead the Ex-Im Bank, has been a vocal and dogged opponent of the Ex-Im Bank.
National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons, in an op-ed published today in The Wall Street Journal, outlined the negative impact for manufacturers if the Senate moves to confirm Garrett as the leader of the Ex-Im Bank.
As a congressman, Garrett built a record of votes and statements that sought to dismantle the Ex-Im Bank. He voted to close the agency at every opportunity and voted against a reauthorization bill in October 2015 that passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. Before the vote, he took to the House floor to mischaracterize the agency as a “fund for corporate welfare” and urge his colleagues to “keep the Export-Import Bank out of business.”
When he voted against the agency’s reauthorization again later in 2015, he issued a statement explaining that he opposed the bill because it would “resurrect the most shameless example of crony capitalism Washington has ever concocted—the Export-Import Bank.” Prior to the 2015 reauthorization, Garrett voted against the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization in 2012 that was strongly approved by both the House and Senate. Garrett’s opposition to the Ex-Im Bank has been consistent, vocal and aimed at undermining the agency’s credibility.
Ex-Im Bank Benefits U.S. Manufacturers, Workers and Taxpayers
- American Workers and Their Families Benefit from the Ex-Im Bank: U.S. export sales supported by the Ex-Im Bank have directly supported 1.4 million jobs over the past seven years.
- Small Businesses: In fiscal 2016, about 90 percent of Ex-Im’s transactions—more than 2,600 deals—directly supported small businesses. Tens of thousands of small business suppliers benefit from partnerships with large exporters that also utilize the Ex-Im Bank.
- Taxpayers: The Ex-Im Bank has generated $7 billion for taxpayers in the past 20 years, mostly through fees collected from foreign customers. The agency is self-sustaining and covers its own operating costs. Eliminating the Ex-Im Bank would actually increase the U.S. deficit. The agency transferred $284 million in deficit-reducing receipts to the U.S. Treasury for fiscal 2016.
Garrett’s past statements are evidence of a fundamental misunderstanding of the Ex-Im Bank’s ability to level the playing field globally. In a competitive global landscape, the Ex-Im Bank is a much-needed counterweight to substantial foreign export financing. The agency recently reported that China continues to be the world’s largest provider of official export credit, providing more trade-related investment support than the rest of the world combined. Together, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) provided a combined total of more than $51 billion in medium- and long-term export credit in 2016—nearly half of the total official export credit provided worldwide. Last year, without a quorum for its board of directors, the Ex-Im Bank was able to authorize just $5 billion. While the agency’s board of directors has lacked the necessary quorum to approve certain deals, an estimated 40 deals worth more than $30 billion are stuck in the pipeline.
The Ex-Im Bank plays a targeted and critical role in securing and creating more American jobs. That is why the Ex-Im Bank needs a leader who will ensure the agency is able to function at its full potential and promote U.S. exports in the face of substantial competition from manufacturers overseas supported by very active export credit agencies. Manufacturers are losing out on opportunities every day that the vacancies on the Ex-Im Bank board of directors are left unfilled, but Garrett, who said “Congress should put the Export-Import Bank out of business” just two years ago, is simply not a credible leader for this agency.