Ex-Im Renewal Attached to Highway BillNovember 4, 2015
On Nov. 5, the House approved a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill that includes the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im), which has been held up in Congress since its charter expired on June 30, 2015. The Senate had previously passed identical Ex-Im language as an amendment to their highway bill this past summer. The multi-year highway bill, which passed 363-64, now heads to a conference committee with the Senate ahead of a Nov. 20 deadline for renewing federal highway funding.
Ensuring that Ex-Im was included in the highway bill was the fact that on Nov. 4, the House rejected a series of proposed Ex-Im amendments to the six-year highway bill, keeping the export credit agency on course for reauthorization as part of the transportation bill. Supporters of the Bank were able to defeat 10 amendments designed to put constraints on Ex-Im’s operations. The Ex-Im Bank proposals were among the most contentious of the 126 amendments proposed for the highway and transit bill.
Among the amendments defeated was one offered by Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fl.) that would have changed the target percentage of transactions that must benefit small businesses to 100 percent –up from the previous rate of 20 percent, and up from the 25 percent required by the Ex-Im language currently in the bill.
Another amendment, from Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), would have allowed individuals and companies to sue Ex-Im if they could prove they had been financially harmed by its activities. Another offered by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) would only allow transactions in cases where there is direct competition from a foreign export credit agency. Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif) amendment would have made a number of reforms, such as guaranteeing that the export credit agency is a “lender of last resort,” forming an audit committee and requiring a report on the activities of the agency that could be privatized.
On Oct. 27, supporters of Ex-Im rejoiced as the House successfully passed the Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 597) with a bipartisan vote of 313-118 that reauthorizes the Ex-Im Bank through Sept. 2019. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the Senate will not take up Ex-Im as a stand-alone bill. Attaching Ex-Im to the long-term highway bill gives it a better chance for survival through the Senate.
NSBA and SBEA have long supported Ex-Im because it works with thousands of small and medium-sized businesses throughout the country; in fact, nearly 90 percent of Ex-Im’s transactions are with small businesses. In FY2014, Ex-Im directly supported 164,000 American jobs at over 3,300 companies – all at no cost to taxpayers.