Heitkamp says Trump will support the Export-Import Bank

Heitkamp says Trump will support the Export-Import Bank

A Senate Democrat said Thursday that President Trump has agreed to restore full lending powers to the Export-Import Bank, an about-face from his campaign rhetoric.

Sen. Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampRegulatory experts push Senate leaders for regulatory reform Why governors hold power in the battle for GOP healthcare votes Vulnerable senators raise big money ahead of 2018 MORE of North Dakota said Trump told her during a lunch meeting at the White House that he would soon nominate someone to provide the bank's five-member board with a quorum after more than a year without the authority to make deals worth more than $10 million.

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“To support the economy and boost American manufacturing jobs, enabling the Ex-Im Bank to work is a critical step,” Heitkamp said. 

“It’s great news he agreed and said he would nominate someone to serve on the Ex-Im Bank Board very soon so the agency, which has been stalled for a year, can fully function and keep supporting American workers and small businesses, including many in North Dakota, just as it has done for more than 80 years,” she said. 

Supporters of the embattled bank had tried several tactics last year to revive the bank’s higher lending limit. 

Business groups and a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers had pushed for Ex-Im to operate for up to three years with only two board members, instead of three.

Those efforts failed in the lame-duck session after the November election. 

President Obama had nominated two people to the board but Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) refused to consider either nomination. 

The lack of a majority on the Ex-Im’s board is holding up more than $30 billion worth of deals, which supports almost 174,000 American jobs, Heitkamp said.

During the campaign, Trump expressed opposition to Ex-Im because he said it only benefits a few companies and that the U.S. could “do well without it."

Heitkamp also raised the Ex-Im issue when she met with Trump in New York on Dec. 2.

In June 2015, Congress let Ex-Im's charter expire for the first time in the agency’s more than 80-year history, which was a temporary win for conservatives who call the bank an example of "corporate cronyism."

By the end of 2015, Congress passed legislation to reauthorize the bank but the agency remained short of the quorum needed to lend above the $10 million level.

The bank suffered from the shutdown and subsequent lack of a quorum, authorizing 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.