Manufacturers press Senate to approve Ex-Im board members

Manufacturers press Senate to approve Ex-Im board members
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Manufacturers are keeping up pressure on Senate Republican leaders to get the Export-Import Bank running at full speed.

In a letter on Tuesday, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash House passes bipartisan bill to boost business investment MORE (R-Ky.) and Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash McConnell: Russians are not our friends Russians' indictment casts shadow ahead of Trump-Putin summit MORE (R-Texas) to approve by the end of January four nominees to the Ex-Im board of directors. Confirming those nominees would enable the bank to make larger loans.

"Doing so will be beneficial to manufacturers of all sizes and types that rely on the tools that the Ex-Im Bank provides and will advance U.S. competitiveness in the global economy at a critical moment when overseas opportunities are increasing at a renewed pace,” wrote Jay Timmons, NAM’s president and CEO, in the letter. 

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Last month, the Senate Banking Committee approved four nominees to the Ex-Im board: Kimberly Reed, Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusManufacturers ramp up pressure on Senate to fill Ex-Im Bank board Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE, Judith Pryor and Claudia Slacik.

All four nominations have been held over by the Senate and can be considered on the floor.

Since 2015, the Ex-Im bank has been without a quorum on its board, which prohibits the agency from making deals of more than $10 million. During that time more than $30 billion worth of business has been stuck in the pipeline.

NAM wants the Senate to quickly approve the board nominations despite the failure of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE's nominee to head up the bank — former New Jersey Republican lawmaker Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettTrump taps nominee to lead Export-Import Bank Who has the edge for 2018: Republicans or Democrats? Rejected Trump nominee quietly hired by SEC: report MORE — to gain the panel's approval.

Garrett's nomination was sent back to the president before the start of the second session of the 115th Congress earlier this month, and he has not been renominated for the job.

Whether the White House sends Garrett's name back to Capitol Hill remains to be seen, but it appears unlikely that senators would confirm him for the job. 

Banking Committee Republicans and Democrats weren't convinced that Garrett, who had actively tried to shut down the Ex-Im Bank during his time in Congress, had actually changed his mind about the bank being a form of crony capitalism.

In the letter, Timmons argued that the bank has broad congressional support and when fully operational the Ex-Im supports tens of billions of dollars in U.S. exports along with millions of jobs.

“Failing to act on these nominations aids our competitors overseas while throwing Americans out of good paying jobs right here at home,” Timmons wrote.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa provided more than $51 billion in medium- and long-term export credit in 2016, which is nearly half of the total official export credit provided worldwide, NAM said.

“While the United States sits on the sidelines, China has provided more trade-related investment support than the rest of the world combined,” Timmons said.