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Scott Garrett poses real threat to EXIM Bank, small businesses

Scott Garrett poses real threat to EXIM Bank, small businesses
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For those who haven't worked in manufacturing, it may seem as though only large corporations sell their products across international borders. Those working at small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses, however, know the real story.

In the U.S., small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 500 workers account for 97.6 percent of all exporters and 96.4 percent of all manufacturing exporters.

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At MWI Corporation, a pump manufacturing company located in Deerfield Beach, Florida, I've witnessed the story behind the statistics firsthand.

 

We made our first international sale in 1971, selling water pumps to customers in Jamaica. Since then, accessing international customers and markets has only become more critical to our business. Today, we're proud to have pump systems operating in over 50 countries.

To sell our systems across the globe, MWI relies on the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank. Between 1983 and 2002, MWI obtained EXIM financing commitments to support export sales to Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

These sales totaled nearly $221 million, money that went into hiring workers and paying employees back at home in the U.S.

Without EXIM, our sales to Zimbabwe and other developing countries would not have happened. That's why our business relies on EXIM, and it's why I oppose former Rep. Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettManufacturers support Reed to helm Ex-Im Bank Trump taps nominee to lead Export-Import Bank Who has the edge for 2018: Republicans or Democrats? MORE's (R-N.J.) nomination to lead this critical agency. 

Since President Trump nominated Garrett, I've felt anxious and concerned. President Trump has been a strong supporter of American manufacturing since he first began campaigning for the presidency. 

Yet, Scott Garrett does not share these priorities. While in Congress, Garrett made it his goal to shut down EXIM, repeatedly voting against reauthorizing the bank and arguing its mission is "doling out taxpayer funded welfare for mega corporations." 

Garrett's comments demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the connection between EXIM financing and supporting jobs for small business employees and suppliers.

In 1997, 750 small business suppliers in 24 states benefitted directly from MWI’s export sales that were supported by EXIM Bank financing. In fiscal year 2016, more than 90 percent of EXIM's transactions directly supported American small businesses. Without EXIM, our business — and businesses like ours — would suffer the most.

The overused criticism of EXIM as favoring large manufacturers like Boeing is misleading and hardly tells the whole story. When EXIM Bank provides financing to Boeing to support the export sales of their aircraft, Boeing partners with more than 13,400 small and mid-size suppliers and vendors across the country, which supports 1.3 million American jobs. 

I watched the recent confirmation hearing hoping that, after months of hearing from those who rely on the bank, Garrett had learned from his mistakes and could now muster a clear and unequivocal statement of support for the mission of the Export-Import Bank.

In every respect, Garrett disappointed. Asked time and again whether he was wrong to try to shut down the bank, Garrett evaded the question every time. He point-blank refused to take back his former statements. 

I watched the hearing hoping I was wrong about Scott Garrett and the danger he posed to those Americans who rely on the EXIM Bank. I even wrote to Sens. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoLawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks GOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters Republicans shift course after outside counsel falters MORE (R-Idaho) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem victories in `18 will not calm party turbulence MORE (D-Ohio), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, urging them to scrutinize Garrett. They did.

I felt a pit in my stomach and the knowledge that, if anything, the threat Garrett posed was even greater than I had initially thought. 

Garrett does not believe in EXIM. We, the small-business leaders and workers that rely on the Bank, have no reason to believe in him. In my view, EXIM Bank is actually the “Bank of Small Business” and it deserves to survive and be led by someone who believes in its mission and who is prepared to defend it against its naysayers who foolishly try to destroy it. 

Scott Garrett is not that person. 

William E. Bucknam, Esq. is the vice president and general counsel for ‎MWI Corporation, a pump manufacturing company in Deerfield Beach, Florida.