Two Banking panel members urge vote on Ex-Im Bank

A bipartisan duo on the Senate Banking Committee urged panel leaders on Wednesday to take up a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) sent a letter to panel Chairman Tim Johnson (D-N.D.) and ranking member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) asking them to schedule a vote on legislation to provide another round of funding, which is set to run out Sept. 30.

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Manchin and Kirk lead the Banking Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance that oversees Ex-Im and they are expected to play a central role in drafting reauthorization legislation.

"Considering a majority of senators support the Ex-Im Bank and its reauthorization is imperative, we see no reason to delay this vote," they wrote.

“After all, if we do not reauthorize the Bank, the U.S. stands to lose over 1 million jobs and billions of dollars in exports."

The issue is likely next up on the panel’s agenda after they consider legislation to overhaul the housing finance system, which is expected to continue next week. 

At the end of April, the White House sent legislation to Capitol Hill that would extend the Bank’s authority for five years and increase the lending cap by $5 billion each fiscal year from 2015 through 2018, with an exposure limit capped at $160 billion.

The 80-year-old Bank, headed by Fred Hochberg, went through a tough reauthorization fight two years ago but managed to land broad support in the House and Senate.

In the letter, the senators argue that last year the Ex-Im Bank financed a record 3,413 small businesses, which is almost 90 percent of the all transactions.

"Constituents in our home states of West Virginia and Illinois have told us that, without Ex-Im Bank services, their small businesses would have no opportunity to participate in lucrative export markets,” they said.

The fight for funding is looking more difficult this time around with conservative groups rallying against Ex-Im's charter and some House Republicans saying they won't support a reauthorization.

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) rank among the bank’s opponents.

Still, the Bank has plenty of powerful supporters — U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers — that argue that the Bank helps provides many small-sized U.S. businesses the best way to get their products into foreign markets.