Highway Bill Includes Ex-Im ReauthDecember 2, 2015
The Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the U.S. is set to be renewed for more than four years as part of the long-term highway bill reported out by conferees on Dec. 1. The conference committee made no changes to the Ex-Im language because it was identical in the House and Senate versions of the bill.
The legislation, 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, would lower Ex-Im’s lending cap from $140 billion to $135 billion. The Bank provides critical financing assistance – at no cost to taxpayers – to small, medium, and large U.S. businesses, and helps those businesses to create jobs in the U.S. and sell their products overseas. With a focus on transparency, accountability, and job growth, the Ex-Im language includes major reforms such as:
- Strengthening risk management;
- An increase in loss reserves;
- Increase small-business lending requirements;
- Incentivizing an end to government-supported international export subsidies; and
- Greater anti-corruption safeguards.
The bank’s charter expired on June 30, and while members of Congress from both parties support reauthorizing Ex-Im, there has been strong opposition from some conservative Republicans who believe Ex-Im is corporate welfare. Meanwhile, in the 2014 fiscal year, Ex-Im supported 164,000 jobs and $27.4 billion of U.S. exports. A vast majority of the bank’s transactions — nearly 90 percent — supported small businesses.
In October, a bipartisan group in the House signed a discharge petition to force a vote on legislation that would renew Ex-Im, passage ignited a momentum that led Ex-Im to be included in the highway bill giving supporters in both chambers the assurance it would be reauthorized.
On Dec. 1, lawmakers in the House and Senate reached an agreement on a compromise highway bill, known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which would extend federal transportation funding for five years. Lawmakers were hurrying to finish negotiations on the bicameral multi-year transportation funding bill so that both chambers would have time to examine the deal before the current funds lapse on Dec. 4. The agreement would result in the first transportation funding legislation to last longer than two years since 2005, if it is approved by both chambers before the end of the week.
NSBA and SBEA have long supported Ex-Im because it works with thousands of small and medium-sized businesses throughout the country and strongly believe it should remain a catalyst for the expansion of small-business exports while continuing to support businesses confronting aggressive foreign competition.