Ex-Im Bank May be Revived in Highway Trust Fund BillJuly 14, 2015
The charter for the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im) expired on June 30, and with its authority lapsing for the first time in the Bank’s 81-year history, Ex-Im can no longer process new applications, but it can continue to oversee its existing financing. Additionally, those working at the Bank remain employed.
Ex-Im helps to create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to the American taxpayers—providing a variety of financial mechanisms, including working capital financing, export-credit insurance and financial guarantees to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.
Congress failed to address the charter’s expiration before they adjourned for the July 4 recess, but the Bank’s supporters—including Senators Maria Cantwell (R-Wash.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)—plan to seek to renew the charter retroactively this month. They are hoping to do so by attaching Ex-Im reauthorization to legislation extending the Highway Trust Fund, which expires July 31 and has been deemed a piece of “must-pass legislation.”
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is expected to mark-up a six-year highway funding bill on July 16 and committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) has said the Kirk-Heitkamp bill to renew Ex-Im would likely be changed to include more reforms before being voted on in the Senate. Ultimately, the decision to allow an amendment reauthorizing Ex-Im to be attached to the Highway bill on the Senate floor falls to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has been hearing from both sides as to what to do.
The Senate held a test vote on Ex-Im’s reauthorization last month, and 65 Senators on both sides of the aisle expressed support for the Bank. Though legislation extending the Highway Trust Fund with Ex-Im reauthorization attached would likely pass the Senate—if Sen. McConnell allows for the amendment—it would face more of a challenge in the House, where conservatives lead the charge against reauthorizing Ex-Im.
For his part, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) previously expressed concern over potential job losses if Ex-Im ends for good, but has repeatedly said he would allow an open amendment process should reauthorization go before the House as an amendment to the Highway Trust Fund. The open amendment process would give members the chance to vote on stripping reauthorization from the legislation. The House is also poised to consider its own six-month extension of highway funding.
NSBA/SBEA members voted Ex-Im Bank reauthorization among NSBA’s top 10 priorities for the 114th Congress.