Kirk, Heitkamp offer new Export-Import bill

Sens. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkLiberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP On the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Biden campaign releases video to explain 'what really happened in Ukraine' MORE (R-Ill.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampCentrists, progressives rally around Harris pick for VP 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama MORE (D-N.D.), with help from Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinBiden promises Democratic senators help in battleground states Senate leaders quash talk of rank-and-file COVID-19 deal OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' MORE (D-W.Va.), on Thursday introduced a bill to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank through September 2019.

Congress must reauthorize the bank by June 30 or it will shut down. The debate over renewing the charter is expected to be fierce, with GOP critics arguing the government should get out of the business of providing Ex-Im support for U.S. companies.

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Kirk and Manchin argued their bill includes reforms that will improve the bank and ensure it continues to provide support to companies that will increase U.S. exports.

“This bill contains over a dozen reforms which have brought together a bipartisan coalition of senators who agree that American businesses, large and small, cannot unilaterally disarm against our global competitors,” Kirk said in a statement. 

Kirk and Heitkamp are chair and ranking member of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade. 

The Senate Banking Committee has jurisdiction on the issue. Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who did not co-sponsor the bill, has said he will have hearings on Ex-Im’s reauthorization.

There are two Ex-Im reauthorization bills in the House, but House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has not said whether he will move a bill through his panel, which has jurisdiction on the issue.

The Senate bill includes provisions that would create a chief risk officer and a risk management committee to oversee the bank's operations. It would also require the inspector general to audit the bank’s risk management procedures regularly. Additionally, it creates a non-political chief ethics officer to oversee ethics practices of bank employees.

The bill also includes a provision that says Ex-Im officials cannot discriminate against any energy source — including coal.

Ex-Im officials adopted regulations in 2013 that prevent the bank from financing overseas power plants that decline to adopt greener technology, a policy opposed by the coal industry.

The other co-sponsors on the bill were Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).