After rough year, Export-Import Bank faces more hurdles under Trump

After rough year, Export-Import Bank faces more hurdles under Trump
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The Export-Import Bank posted its worst year in nearly four decades as a temporary shutdown and inability to complete bigger deals hobbled its finances.

The 82-year-old agency authorized only $5 billion in financing in fiscal 2016, the lowest level in 40 years, compared with $20 billion in 2014, the last year the bank was fully operational.

Fred Hochberg, the bank’s chairman, described the past two years as “somewhat disheartening” because of the charter’s lapse as well as a lack of a quorum on the board that limits its business dealings.

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Ex-Im, which may become a target for closure by President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump visits Virginia golf club Dem rep: Kushner ‘lied’, should be investigated Meet Trump's new communications director MORE, supported 52,000 jobs and generated $284 million for taxpayers last year.

But those figures are way down from the 165,000 and $675 million two years ago.

Trump has said he opposes the bank but had yet to say what he wants to do about the agency. 

The bank struggled behind an understaffed board, which prevented the agency from making deals of more than $10 million.

There is about $30 billion worth of deals stuck in the pipeline that could be completed with a quorum.

"I hope the new Congress will speedily act on all five board nominees to bring the bank back to full force," Hochberg said in the report.

In 2015, conservatives in Congress won a temporary shutdown of Ex-Im that lasted for nearly six months.

The charter was reauthorized in December of that year after a group of House Democrats and Republicans teamed up to employ a rarely used procedural move to spring the bank free.

With the board short of members, bank supporters urged the Republican-led Senate to consider President Obama’s nominees to the Ex-Im board.

But Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) refused to budge.

Bank supporters failed to push a legislative proposal through Congress late last year as part of a final spending bill aimed at lowering the quorum requirement so the bank could fully operate with a smaller board.

“Looking to the future, the Ex-Im Bank team is well-prepared for the presidential transition that puts our customers and American workers first,” Hochberg said.

Since 2009, the bank has financed more than $240 billion in U.S. exports, supported more than 1.4 million American jobs and sent more than $3.8 billion to taxpayers.