Congressional Dems press Boehner for Ex-Im Bank vote

Three congressional Democrats sent a letter on Tuesday to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) urging him to let the House vote on legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank before its charter expires in September.

Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell along with Rep. Denny Heck, all from Washington state, said “there is no good reason to delay the reauthorization of Ex-Im, and we encourage you to work with your colleagues and move your chamber toward reauthorizing this successful public-private partnership.”

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“We see no reason for members of either party to waver in their support, and we are confident that a reauthorization vote would pass the House once again with strong, bipartisan backing,” they wrote in a letter obtained by The Hill.

In 2012, the last time the bank was reauthorized, the Senate passed the bill on a 78-20 vote while the House voted 330-93.

“Members of Congress have no excuse to reverse their previous support for the bank, and we are confident that reauthorization would pass the House once again with strong bipartisan support,” they wrote.

They argued that the reauthorization, which is caught up in a web of bipartisan bickering, is important for jobs not only in their state but across the country.

“The continuation of Ex-Im is not a political issue, it is a jobs issue,” they wrote.

Washington is home to Boeing, which the largest beneficiary of the bank’s lending help to sell its jets across the globe, a company that is at the heart r of the dispute over continuing the bank's funding. 

“Companies selling goods from airplanes to wood products to lentils (and more) benefitted from Ex-Im programs in the past year, and we consistently hear from our constituents, particularly small business owners, of the value Ex-Im provides to their companies as an important export finance tool to help grow their businesses,” they wrote.

Leading opponents denounce Ex-Im as “corporate welfare.”

So far, Boehner has refused to steer the debate or put his weight behind another reauthorization. Instead, he has argued that the legislation needs to run through the committee process.

While some House Republicans are preparing to offer a bill with reforms to the bank, it remains unclear as to whether House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who strongly opposes the bank, would consider legislation.

Without congressional action, the bank’s charter will expire Sept. 30 and the agency will be unable to make new loans.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are expected, possibly this week, to unveil legislation that would reauthorize the bank.

Democratic leaders have suggested it could reach the floor quickly.

In the letter, the lawmakers argue that trade is critically important to the continued growth to the nation’s economy, not just to their state but to Boehner's home. 

They said that 114 companies in Boehner’s home state were helped by from Ex-Im financing last year, including 98 small businesses.  

Overall last year, U.S. exports hit $2.3 trillion, with Washington exporting a record-breaking $81.9 billion in goods and services, which they said is a result of Ex-Im support.

In Washington, Ex-Im supported 84 companies, including 64 small businesses.  

“An agency that reduces the deficit, supports a level international playing field for U.S. companies, and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country is an agency that deserves robust support from Congress,” they wrote.

They reiterated that Ex-Im helped 3,413 small businesses that led to $37.4 billion in exports and supported 205,000 export-related jobs.  

“Failure to reauthorize the bank would place American companies at a serious disadvantage to international businesses, particularly those with access to the 60 official export credit agencies worldwide not in danger of closing,” they wrote.

“By not reauthorizing the bank, you will unnecessarily put American jobs at risk at a time when the focus should be on ways to continue to grow the economy.”