Manufacturers ramp up pressure on Senate to fill Ex-Im Bank board

Manufacturers ramp up pressure on Senate to fill Ex-Im Bank board
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The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is ramping up pressure on the Senate to quickly vote on four nominees to get the Export-Import Bank back up and running at full speed. 

Jay Timmons, the head of NAM, sent a letter on Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump hints at new executive action on immigration, wants filibuster-proof Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump MORE (R-Ky.) and the rest of the Senate urging lawmakers to schedule votes for nominees to the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors, which will become vacant on Friday. 

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"The lack of a functioning Ex-Im Bank is not only one of those serious economic problems, but also one that can be easily solved given the strong bipartisan support for confirmation of the four Ex-Im Bank nominees,” Timmons wrote in a letter obtained by The Hill. 

“Manufacturers want to see holds on these nominees lifted and swift action to move these nominations to the floor for consideration as soon as possible,” he wrote. 

The four nominees — Kimberly Reed, Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusThe key for EXIM's future lies in accountability Manufacturers support Reed to helm Ex-Im Bank Manufacturers ramp up pressure on Senate to fill Ex-Im Bank board MORE, Judith Pryor and Claudia Slacik — were approved by the Senate Banking Committee in December.

But 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, a former New Jersey Republican and President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE's nominee to lead the bank, failed to gain the banking panel's support, leaving Ex-Im's fate in limbo. 

Banking Committee lawmakers weren't convinced that Garrett, who had actively tried to shut down the Ex-Im Bank during his time in Congress, had changed his mind about the bank's mission.

Trump has yet to choose anyone else to take the helm at the Ex-Im Bank.

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.) has so far stymied Senate action.

Toomey, who has called the bank a form of corporate welfare, had initially asked for the four nominees and Garrett to be confirmed together in the Senate.

Conservatives have repeatedly tried to shut down the bank, although it enjoys healthy bipartisan support in the House and Senate. 

The agency's five-member board will be vacant on Friday when Scott Schloegel, who announced his resignation last week, departs his seat.

The Ex-Im Bank has been without a quorum — at least three members — on its board for more than two years, meaning it has been unable to consider deals greater than $10 million.

Manufacturers argue that they have lost billions of dollars in deals and that has deprived U.S. workers of good-paying jobs that would have been supported by Ex-Im Bank business. 

"As a result, countries in Europe and beyond have been luring U.S. manufacturers to set up shop overseas to take advantage of foreign export financing because the U.S. system is effectively broken," Timmons wrote. 

Last month, a bipartisan group of 68 House lawmakers urged Republican and Democratic Senate leaders to vote on the nominees.