Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations

Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations
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The Senate on Wednesday voted to confirm three officials to the board of the Export-Import Bank, restoring the federal manufacturing subsidizer to full strength in a blow to its conservative critics.

Senators voted to confirm Kimberly Reed as president of the Ex-Im Bank and approved the nomination of former Rep. Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Biz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank On The Money: White House files notice of China tariff hikes | Dems cite NYT report in push for Trump tax returns | Trump hits Iran with new sanctions | Trump praises GM for selling shuttered Ohio factory | Ex-Im Bank back at full strength MORE (R-Ala.) and Judith DelZoppo Pryor to be members of the bank’s board of directors.

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Senators voted 79 to 17 to confirm Reed, with 16 Republicans and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden leads Sanders by single digits in South Carolina: poll Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Biden will go after Bloomberg, Sanders at Las Vegas debate, aides say MORE (I-Vt.) in opposition. Bachus was confirmed by a 72-22 vote and Pryor was confirmed 77 to 19. 

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With three of Ex-Im’s five board positions filled, the bank can now meet the legally required quorum to approve transactions worth more than $10 million.

The confirmations of Reed, Bachus and Pryor is the latest swing in a four-year battle between a broad coalition of Ex-Im supporters and fiscally conservative critics over its existence.

The Ex-Im Bank was created in 1934 to subsidize U.S. exporters and manufacturers amid mounting global competition. The bank attracted little political fire until 2015, when a cadre of GOP lawmakers spurred by conservative groups successfully blocked a reauthorization of its charter.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants MORE had initially nominated former Rep. Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettBiz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Manufacturers support Reed to helm Ex-Im Bank MORE (R-N.J.), who was among the bank’s top House critics during the fight over its charter, to lead Ex-Im.

But after Senate Republicans rejected Garrett’s nomination, Toomey sought to block the confirmation of other Ex-Im nominees, preventing the bank from reaching full strength.

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and pro-business groups have rallied for restaffing Ex-Im, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Ex-Im advocates say the bank plays a crucial role in helping U.S. manufacturers compete against state-backed companies and protectionist trade policies, particularly in China.

The bank’s critics, including the Heritage Foundation and the conservative nonprofit Americans for Prosperity, say Ex-Im is prototypical crony capitalism that distorts markets and benefits major U.S. firms that do not need help.

The Ex-Im Bank’s future is still unclear despite the confirmation of three new members, with lawmakers facing a September deadline to reauthorize the bank’s charter.

Reps. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersMaxine Waters blasts Trump as 'mafia boss' over Stone case Democrats highlight lack of diversity at major banks in new report Fed chief issues stark warning to Congress on deficits MORE (D-Calif.) and Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryFed chief issues stark warning to Congress on deficits Fed chairman warns of economic damage from coronavirus House passes legislation to overhaul consumer credit reporting MORE (R-N.C.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, respectively, both support renewing the bank but could face obstacles from Toomey, Shelby and other Ex-Im critics.