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Businesses intensify push for Ex-Im

Businesses intensify push for Ex-Im
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A top business group on Monday urged congressional lawmakers to pass a multi-year bill reviving the Export-Import Bank.

The Business Roundtable (BRT) argued in a letter to House and Senate leaders that U.S. companies have lost international sales and put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk because Congress failed to reauthorize the bank before its charter expired June 30.

“Ex-Im Bank is a vital public policy tool for promoting U.S. businesses of all sizes and jobs in the competitive, global marketplace,” wrote Thomas Linebarger, chairman and CEO of Cummins and chairman of the Roundtable's International Engagement Committee.

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“Especially given challenging global economic conditions and forecasts, Congress should seize on opportunities to support U.S. growth and jobs," he continued. "Reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank would help expand U.S. exports, generate and sustain American manufacturing and jobs and grow the U.S. economy, at very little risk to U.S. taxpayers.”

Linebarger noted that Ex-Im, which facilitates financing for overseas projects involving U.S. firms, not only doesn’t cost taxpayers any money, it turns a profit. In 2014, the bank generated more than $674 million for the Treasury Department from fees and interest charged for its services.

The 80-year-old institution, however, has increasingly taken fire from the right after enjoying bipartisan support for decades.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) on Friday that there are no plans to vote on a stand-alone bill reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank.

Hoyer argued that the bill has the votes to pass and it should be brought up.

Proponents of an Ex-Im reauthorization may try to attach an extension to either a spending bill, which has to be done by the end of the month, or a highway funding measure, which is in a holding pattern.

Meanwhile, House conservatives, who contend the bank doles out “corporate welfare,” maintain that they will fight to stop any reauthorization.

The BRT said that in fiscal 2014, the bank provided $27.5 billion worth of U.S. export financing, supporting about 164,000 jobs.

"Unfortunately, Congress’ failure to address Ex-Im Bank’s reauthorization puts these American jobs and economic benefits in jeopardy," Linebarger wrote.

He said U.S. companies are losing business to foreign firms that can get funding from one of 85 foreign export credit agencies around the world.

"In the face of fierce foreign competition, it is critical for Congress to restore a level playing field for U.S. companies and workers by reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank," Linebarger said.