Two lawmakers propose first House bipartisan Ex-Im bill

Two senior House lawmakers on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation that would provide a five-year reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

Reps. Gary Miller (R-Calif.), vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, teamed up on the House's first bipartisan draft legislation that would provide the bank with a long-term charter while making changes at the agency to reduce risks to taxpayers.

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“This legislation contains a responsible set of reforms that we believe will strengthen the Export-Import Bank and lay the groundwork for a bipartisan agreement that extends the bank’s charter over the long term,” Waters said in a statement.

The bill, which Miller and Waters have been working on for several months, is aimed at eliminating abuse and would shift more business to the private sector. 

“Congress must give American businesses the certainty they need to compete in the global markets by passing a multi-year reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank," Miller said.

Meanwhile, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) vowed to let the bank's charter expire June 30.

 

"With no further action or consideration expected during this Congress, I look forward to the bank's expiration and working with members to make our exporters more competitive by advancing pro-growth tax, energy, regulatory and liability policies," Hensarling said.

The bank got a nine-month extension through June in the continuing resolution Congress cleared last month to keep the government running into the 2015 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. 

Hensarling said he deemed the extension as a "short-term, probationary reauthorization" to answer lawmakers questions about the bank's operations. 

Linda Dempsey, vice president of international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers, called the bipartisan bill “welcomed activity” from members of the Financial Services panel.

“Without the certainty of a long-term Ex-Im reauthorization, U.S. exporters will continue to face a significant disadvantage that will result in lost opportunities for American workers and hamper growth here at home,” she said.

Business groups have said they will continue to press for a long-term reauthorization when Congress returns after the elections for the lame duck session.

“It is critical to manufacturers and their employees that Congress put in place a long-term Ex-Im Bank reauthorization as quickly as possible,” she said. 

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced a bipartisan Ex-Im bill in the Senate that has gathered broad support.

The legislation sets out a number of reforms that include:  

• An enhanced loan-loss reserve fund that requires the bank to maintain enough resources to cover 95 percent of the losses that could occur under a worst-case scenario. 

• The creation of a chief risk officer, responsible managing and mitigating the bank’s risk.

• Anti-fraud and corruption safeguards, which require the bank to assess its programs to employee misconduct, issue supplemental ethics guidelines and provide annual ethics and fraud detection training.  

• Require the bank to publish a business plan within one year, and subsequent business plans every two years through 2019.

• Increases participation of private sector by encouraging private financial institutions to take on a greater share of risk in the bank’s long-term guarantee program in exchange for a share of the fee paid by the bank’s customers. 

This post was updated at 5:50 p.m.