Manchin, Kirk to unveil 5-year Ex-Im bill

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) will unveil later this week a five-year reauthorization bill for the Export-Import Bank. [READ THE BILL]

The nine-page bill, a copy of which was obtained first by The Hill, would increase the bank's credit exposure limit from the current $140 billion to $160 billion. The legislation also would require the Government Accountability Office to study the bank's medium-term financing programs.

It's a bare-bones piece of legislation, with one exception: it would reverse restrictions that Ex-Im officials passed in December preventing the bank from financing overseas power plants that won't adopt greener technology. The coal industry vehemently opposes the restrictions. Manchin, a coal state Democrat, heard their concerns.

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The legislation does not address concerns raised by Delta Airlines. Delta has called for Ex-Im reforms arguing that Ex-Im offers an unfair advantage to companies such as Boeing. 

A working proposal from retiring Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) would also overturn the coal restrictions. But it would limit how much Ex-Im can loan to foreign and state-owned businesses, which would help Delta.

A Kirk aide told The Hill last week that Kirk's “consistent support of reauthorization is rooted in protecting Illinois companies like Boeing,” and that he is working to make sure “Ex-Im funds support Boeing airplanes.”

Kirk is a long-time champion of Ex-Im. Two of the bank's major beneficiaries, Boeing and Caterpillar, are headquartered in his state. 

Manchin and Kirk are the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Banking subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance.

The Banking Committee will need to first approve the bill before it heads to the floor. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said last week Democrats want to pass Ex-Im reauthorization before the end of the month.

The reauthorization has become a contentious issue among Republicans. Tea partiers argue it's crony capitalism and corporate welfare, nicknaming it the "Bank of Boeing." Ex-Im supporters argue that it's needed to help U.S. businesses make inroads in emerging markets, while sustaining jobs in America.

House Republicans haven't introduced a bill yet. It's unknown whether House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a staunch Ex-Im opponent, will allow the Committee to approve the legislation.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been tight-lipped about whether he'd bring an Ex-Im reauthorization bill straight to the floor, sidestepping Hensarling's committee.