As my wife has told me, Congress has difficulty ordering a pizza. Similarly, Congress allowed the 80-year-old Export-Import Bank to close on June 30th of this year without a vote on the House floor. Even though a clear majority of Congress wants the Export-Import Bank, Congress could not get its act together to stop the bank from lapsing into oblivion.
The Export-Import Bank, like many similar banks in other countries, finances imports and exports. The bank does not cost the taxpayers money. In fact, in the last two years alone, Ex-Im has returned over $1.7 billion to the Treasury to help pay down the national deficit.
The House of Representatives moved one step closer to bringing the Export-Import Bank back from the dead after 62 Republicans teamed up with 184 House Democrats to force a vote to reauthorize the embattled agency. These 246 brave (especially the Republican) members of the House of Representatives, a clear majority of the Chamber, used the unusual method of forcing a vote: a successful discharge petition.
Despite opposition from the vast majority of Republicans, the House passed a motion to discharge a bill reauthorizing Export-Import Bank from the Financial Services Committee, 246-177. Then the House passed the bill reauthorizing the bank by a larger vote of 313 to 118.
The vote clears a path for the chamber to vote on the legislation sponsored by Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn. Under Fincher's legislation, the bank would be reauthorized through 2019. The House of Representative is expected to vote on his bill by the end of October. The Senate has a majority in support of the Export-Import Bank, but that does not mean that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will schedule a vote. McConnell opposes revival of the Export-Import Bank.
Boeing, General Electric and thousands of smaller companies depend on export financing from the Ex-Im bank to finance their sales. Canada has been romancing GE to get it to move north of the border so that it can have more reliable financing for its exports.
And if the bank is not reauthorized, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg says thousands of Americans who now work for the aerospace giant will be forced out of their jobs -- as will thousands of other American workers in Boeing's supply chain.
That's because Boeing will lose a lot of business to European rival Airbus without Ex-Im. The bank now guarantees about 15 percent of Boeing's commercial-aircraft sales -- basically it backs loans to customers outside the U.S. Without the bank, Boeing's customers will be forced elsewhere -- mainly to Airbus, made and financed by France, Germany and other European countries. "That means loss of jobs, it means loss of competitiveness. And in the long run, it's just not a path that the country should be on," Muilenburg said.
Shelia Jackson Lee (D, Texas) said, "In fiscal year 2014, EX-IM Bank approved $20.5 billion in total authorizations. These authorizations supported an estimated $27.5 billion in U.S. export sales, as well as approximately 164,000 American jobs in communities across the country. Recently Diversitybusiness.com announced the selection of Ex-Im Bank as a top agency that provides business opportunities to diverse business owners throughout the United States. Since 2009, Ex-Im Bank has authorized more financing to support the growth of minority- and women-owned businesses than it did over the previous sixteen years combined. In 2014, the bank financed U.S. exports from minority- and women-owned businesses valued at more than $2 billion."
Resurrecting the now-moribund Export-Import Bank is really a no-brainer. While a few Republicans wrongly claim the bank subsidizes some companies, it does not cost the federal government money, yet it clearly creates jobs.
By Joel D. Joseph, Chairman, Made in the USA Foundation