White House, business disappointed over lack of Ex-Im provision in spending bill

The White House and leading business groups on Wednesday expressed disappointment that a short-term spending bill doesn’t restore full lending powers to Export-Import Bank in a stopgap spending bill funding the government. 

Congressional Democrats and Republicans along with business groups have been fighting for the addition of an amendment in the continuing resolution (CR) that would lower the Ex-Im board’s quorum requirements so agency can approve loans of more than $10 million.

{mosads}“The administration is also disappointed, that despite overwhelming bipartisan, bicameral support, the Congress failed to ensure that the Export-Import Bank is able to fully assist American businesses and workers by restoring a board quorum to the Bank,” the White House said in a Statement of Administration Policy.

The bank now has only two confirmed board members, one short of the three needed to approve such transactions.

Business groups along with Democrats and some Republicans were fighting for the provision because of Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.) refusal to consider a nominee to give the five-person board a quorum. 

Supporters are expected to continue their full-court press for inclusion of the amendment in a final spending package when Congress returns after the November elections.

“At a time when we continue to see lackluster growth in our economy and our foreign competitors making investments that support their companies, this inaction is appalling and nonsense,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers in a statement provided to The Hill.

“Despite the bipartisan support that the bank has in both chambers, politics continue to win the day over creating jobs here at home,” Timmons said.

Business Roundtable President John Engler also expressed regret that Congress will depart Washington without resolving the issue.

“We remain disappointed, however, that the Senate will leave town without enabling the U.S. Export-Import Bank to fully operate and consider export financing transactions above $10 million, which promote U.S. exports, job creation and growth,” Engler said. 

Earlier on Wednesday, the Senate easily passed a stopgap funding measure on a 72-26 vote to keep the government running until Dec. 9.

The House is expected to follow suit later in the evening just day before the Oct. 1 deadline.

“While this is yet another setback for manufacturers, we won’t abandon the effort to ensure the Ex-Im Bank can support our nation’s job creators,” Timmons said.

“Congress needs to make this right and restore Ex-Im’s ability to function as soon as possible.”

Earlier this summer, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) won approval of their amendments to their respective state and foreign operations spending bills that would allow the Ex-Im Bank to operate for up to three years with only two board members, instead of three.

As promised, Graham on Wednesday voted no on the CR because the bill lacked the Ex-Im provision.

The 82-year-old agency has more than 30 transactions worth more than $20 billion stuck in the pipeline, according to the agency.

Last year, Ex-Im was shut down for six months after conservative lawmakers blocked its charter from being renewed.

Conservatives have long called the bank an example of “crony capitalism” that focuses its attention on large companies like Boeing.

This post was updated at 7:45 p.m.

Tags Charlie Dent Export–Import Bank of the United States Jay Timmons Lindsey Graham National Association of Manufacturers

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