Ex-Im Bank Reauthorized for Four YearsDecember 9, 2015
On Dec. 4, President Barack Obama signed into law a five-year, $305 billion infrastructure spending package that included the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im). The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (H.R. 22) cleared the House and Senate on Dec. 3, just one day before the scheduled expiration of the latest short-term patch for Highway Trust Fund spending authority.
Meanwhile, Ex-Im’s charter expired on June 30, and while members of Congress from both parties supported reauthorizing Ex-Im, there had been strong opposition from some conservative Republicans who believed Ex-Im was corporate welfare. In fiscal year 2015, Ex-Im Bank approved $12.5 billion in total authorizations which supported an estimated $17.7 billion in U.S. export sales, as well as approximately 109,000 American jobs in communities across the country.
The Ex-Im language included in the highway bill was initially put together by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and later adopted by Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) in the House. As approved and signed into law, the Bank secured a long-term reauthorization that will be in effect until Sept. 30, 2019 and would lower Ex-Im’s lending cap from $140 billion to $135 billion.
With the signing of the FAST Act, Ex-Im is back in business, approving and processing applications for all levels of financing, but until its board of directors has a quorum, it can not approve applications for financing of more than $10 million. Those transactions will need to wait until the Senate confirmation of members sufficient enough to reconstitute a quorum.
In a letter Chairman Fred Hochberg wrote to customers and other interested parties, he stated that Ex-Im expects the online application systems and www.exim.gov to be fully operational no later than Tuesday, Dec. 8, however given the expected volume, he asked for patience while the Bank resumed authorized activities.
Passage of the FAST Act in both chambers marked the first time since 2005 that Congress sent a long-term transportation bill to the White House.
NSBA and SBEA have long supported Ex-Im Bank and thank all those lawmakers who worked tirelessly to ensure U.S. small exporters have the critical tools they need to export products and grow jobs in the U.S. with the renewal of Ex-Im Bank.