Senate Dems frustrated over lack of action on Ex-Im Bank nominee

Senate Dems frustrated over lack of action on Ex-Im Bank nominee
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A pair of Senate Democrats expressed frustration on Thursday that a nominee to the Export-Import Bank board remains stalled.

Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states MORE (N.D.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTrump-Pelosi trade deal creates strife among progressives Democrats question fairness of Senate trial after Graham, McConnell statements Sunday shows - Republicans, Democrats maneuver ahead of House impeachment vote MORE (Ohio) each urged the Senate Banking Committee to clear out a backlog of the panel's nominations, including Mark McWatters to join the Ex-Im board.

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“The Senate Banking Committee needs to vote on all crucial nominees — and that includes the nominees to the board of the Export-Import Bank,” Heitkamp said in an emailed statement to The Hill.

“Despite the fact that Congress finally passed my bill to reauthorize the agency last December, the Ex-Im Bank has still been hamstrung from supporting American jobs and businesses because there isn’t a majority on the board,” she said.

Heitkamp voted no in protest on five other nominations that were approved by voice vote off the Senate floor on Thursday.

“There has been a failure of leadership to do the work of the committee and get all nominees through, and it must change," Heitkamp said.

Brown, ranking member of the Banking panel, urged Senate Republican leaders to clear the growing backlog.

“It is disgraceful that the Senate still hasn’t confirmed any of the 20 nominations that the Banking Committee has received since the start of last year,” Brown said.

"The committee should move forward on all of the remaining nominees without further delay, particularly the president’s choices for seats on the governing boards of the Export-Import Bank and Federal Reserve.”

The panel approved five of the 20 executive nominations that the panel has received since January 2015: Lisa Fairfax and Hester Peirce to the Securities and Exchange Commission; Jay Lerner to be inspector general of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Amias Gerety to be an assistant secretary for financial institutions at the Treasury Department; and Rhett Jeppson to be director of the U.S. Mint.

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems want tougher language on election security in defense bill Schumer asks McConnell for Mulvaney, Bolton to testify in impeachment trial Democrats question fairness of Senate trial after Graham, McConnell statements MORE (R-Ky.), who opposes the 82-year-old agency, said that he is willing to consider the nominee if the committee reports it out.

But Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has shown no signs that he will consider McWatters, a Republican who worked for House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

Shelby has said that he wants President Obama to send up a nominee for the position of vice chairman of supervision to the Federal Reserve before he will act on the other pending nominees.

The Ex-Im Bank needs one more person to reach the three-person quorum on its five-member board.

Until then, the agency can't approve loans for more than $10 million, making it difficult for many U.S. firms — large and small — to get the financing guarantees they need.

In December, Congress reauthorized Ex-Im's charter, which had expired in June, until September 2019. The bank helps U.S. firms finance overseas projects.