House Ex-Im Reauthorization Bill RebootSeptember 30, 2015
This past summer, Congress managed to shut down the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im) for the first time in its 81-year history. The Bank provides critical financing assistance – at no cost to taxpayers – to small, medium, and large-sized U.S. businesses that helps businesses to create jobs in the U.S. and sell their products overseas. Just two months after the Bank shut down, companies across the country are already feeling negative impacts on their ability to compete in the global marketplace.
Since its charter expired on June 30, Ex-Im can no longer process new applications. It is, however continuing to oversee existing financing, but it is unclear how much longer the bank can continue its current level of operations absent a renewal of its charter this fall.
On Sept. 25, Rep. Steve Fincher (R-Tenn.) introduced a companion version to the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization bill that has earned broad bipartisan support in the Senate, and also includes a majority of the reforms outlined in the Reform Exports and Expand the American Economy Act (H.R. 597) introduced by Rep. Fincher earlier this year. The new bill, H.R. 3611—has approximately 25 cosponsors—reauthorizes the bank for five-years while making Ex-Im’s practices more accountable and enhances taxpayer protections by requiring the Bank to become more solvent and self-sufficient.
With a focus on transparency, accountability, and job growth, the bill’s major reforms include:
- Strengthening risk management;
- An increase in loss reserves;
- Increasing small business lending requirements;
- Incentivizing an end to government-supported international export subsidies; and
- Greater anti-corruption safeguards.
In July, the Senate voted 64-26 to adopt an amendment to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank (S.A. 2327), which was attached to the long-term highway bill that passed the Senate before the August recess. That amendment was identical to the Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2015 (S. 819) as introduced on March 19 by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).
With the resignation and impending departure of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), some supporters believe there is a chance to renew the Bank’s charter in the House, as he is no longer beholden to the Bank’s powerful opponents—House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). If action is to occur, it will have to happen quickly, as Boehner leaves office on Oct. 30.