Export-Import Bank leader to tout benefits in critic's home state

Export-Import Bank President Fred Hochberg will testify to Congress on Wednesday that Washington uncertainty surrounding the bank's reauthorization is hurting U.S. businesses.

In his testimony, Hochberg will tout how Ex-Im has supported jobs throughout the country, including Texas, the most state of Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a leading critic of the bank.

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And he'll describe how a “game-changing” renewable energy technology helped create 165 jobs in California after a $48 million loan from Ex-Im enabled FirmGreen CEO Steve Wilburn to make inroads in Brazil.

Hochberg will also argue Wilburn lost out on another project in Korea because of uncertainty about the Export-Import Bank's future. 

"They pointed to the debate surrounding Ex-Im’s reauthorization, and they said: ‘There’s too much uncertainty there—you can’t rely on America,'" Hochberg will say in his testimony. "Can’t rely on America? That’s just wrong."

 Hochberg will not mention a Wall Street Journal report that alleged Ex-Im officials are investigating four employees for cronyism in recent months.

Critics of the bank have argued it is an example of crony capitalism, and have said the private sector should take over the loan guarantees now offered by the bank, which is intended to help boost U.S. exports.

Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson, also slated to testify on Wednesday, will say Ex-Im offers an unfair advantage to companies such as Boeing, according to copies of submitted testimony obtained first by The Hill.

The tide has turned against the bank in recent days as new House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced his opposition to reauthorizing the bank’s charter, a reversal from his previous support.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) distanced himself from the bank on Tuesday, while Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) called for Senate action on the bank.

Delta's Anderson will propose revisions to the bank's charter. He wants Congress to restrict Ex-Im from financing “widebody aircraft to creditworthy or state owned or supported airlines,” arguing that companies like Boeing can obtain financing in the private market.

“Currently, the Bank is not required to — and routinely does not — disclose significant details about its widebody transactions, such as the number of widebody aircraft it plans to finance or the routes on which those aircraft will be deployed,” Anderson wrote in his submitted testimony. “Ex-Im provides a tangible competitive advantage to foreign carriers.”

Hochberg will also tout how Ex-Im has helped provide jobs across America, this following a release on Monday of more than 800 businesses writing Congress to reauthorize the bank. He will say that Ex-Im has supported $20 billion in authorizations for Texas businesses.

“No city in the nation exported more Ex-Im Bank financed goods and services than Houston,” Hochberg wrote in his submitted testimony.