As the U.S. House of Representatives took up legislation Monday (Oct. 26) to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) called on Congress to reopen the federal agency that has been shut down since late July.
“If American jobs are a lawmaker’s priority, then a vote to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank should be an easy ‘yes,’” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said in a statement. “Real jobs are on the line, and manufacturers will be watching to see if Congress stands with working Americans or with a vocal minority who undermine our economic competitiveness.”
As the official export credit agency of the United States since 1934, the Ex-Im bank finances the purchase of domestic exports and provides guarantees or insurance for foreign lines of credit. Due to a lapse of the agency’s authority on July 1, it has been unable to process applications or engage in new business or other prohibited activities by Congress.
According to Ex-Im’s 2014 annual report, the bank provided taxpayer-backed direct loans, guarantees, and export credit insurance totaling more than $27.5 billion in fiscal year 2014. But the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste said about two-thirds of the bank’s payouts went to only 10 businesses in 2013, some of which had profit margins in the hundreds of millions. The Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group said profitable Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing, Caterpillar, Chevron, Dell and Halliburton have all received taxpayer support from the Ex-Im Bank despite having had no trouble securing private financing.
Another opponent of the bank, the Club for Growth, urged all House members in a recent blog post to oppose any vote that reauthorizes the federal agency. The influential conservative, limited government group also warned congressional officials that their vote on the reauthorization will be included in the Club for Growth’s 2015 Congressional Scorecard.
“The Export-Import Bank is a slush fund for corporate welfare that is riddled with corruption. It should not be reauthorized, especially in a manner that allows a small number of liberal Republicans to defy the GOP-controlled House and force the issue with the support of big government Democrats,” said the Club for Growth’s blog post.
But NAM countered on Monday that the shuttered bank directly supports more than 100,000 American jobs tied to exports.
“Small businesses are missing out on the chance to sell products overseas, and workers are losing out on job opportunities,” Timmons said. “Meanwhile, our foreign competitors are seizing billions of dollars’ worth of opportunities, thanks to the more than 80 foreign export credit agencies that give them a strategic advantage.”
Last week, NAM released a white paper, titled “Ex-Im Lapse Hurting U.S. Manufacturers,” showing how U.S. manufacturers of all sizes across the country will be hurt if Congress does not reauthorize legislation to reopen the bank. NAM has also recently developed a new portal highlighting how Ex-Im dollars supports companies and jobs in every state. In Arkansas, NAM data shows that financing to 44 companies from the bank in 2014 supported $713 million in export sales and the creation of 4,555 jobs across the state.
Arkansas companies benefiting from the bank’s taxpayer-back financing include fast-growing northeast Arkansas manufacturer Hytrol Technologies, Southern Rice & Cotton LLC of Harrisburg, and Hot Springs poultry company Keith Smith Company Inc., which has received nearly $110 million in government assistance since 2007.
The U.S. House is bracing for a series of late night votes Monday on reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank thanks to the use of a rarely invoked procedure, according to The Hill.
Action won’t start until about 6:30 p.m. during the first House vote series of the week. More votes are expected later Monday night, but the exact timing is unclear because Ex-Im opponents may employ delaying tactics.
The procedure forcing action on the bank, known as a discharge petition, was last successfully used in 2002 for the House version of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.
Final action on the underlying bill to reauthorize the bank’s charter, which expired on June 30, likely won’t happen until Tuesday afternoon.