Pressure Continues for Ex-Im Reauthorization

April 3, 2012

While Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im Bank) reauthorization continues to struggle to move forward by Congress, some lawmakers are starting to make moves in a positive direction calling for action on renewing the Bank’s charter.

The Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance, and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.

Created in 1934, Ex-Im needs Congress to periodically renew its charter to continue lending—its current authorization expires May 31.

Twenty-five Senate Republicans, spearheaded by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urging immediate action on scheduling floor time for more debate and another vote on Ex-Im Bank reauthorization legislation.

 

Most recently, Ex-Im reauthorization fell to partisan maneuvering when the Senate failed to reach cloture on an amendment by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) to the Jump-Start Our Business Start-ups Act (H.R. 3606 or JOBS Act), which would reauthorize Ex-Im Bank through September 30, 2015, and increases the cap—to $140 billion—on its lending authority.

 

While this group of Republican senators would like to see a debate scheduled for some time after the April recess, so far, Majority Leader Reid has refused to engage in such a debate as he is still angry the Senate Republicans blocked their efforts in what he thought was the fastest —and perhaps only — way to break through resistance from House conservatives who want to rein in the Bank’s lending.

 

“The full Senate must be afforded an opportunity to work its will on the measure through the amendment process,” the letter reads. “It is our belief that once the Senate has had the ability to debate and vote on amendments related to the legislation, we will be able to pass a bill with a very large bipartisan majority.”

 

Over on the House-side, Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) introduced legislation similar to what the Senate has considered in renewing Ex-Im’s charter. H.R. 4302 provides for a full reauthorization of Ex-Im by extending the Bank’s charter until 2015, increasing its lending ability to $140 billion from the current $100 billion level, and improving transparency with additional Congressional oversight.

 

The real stumbling block remains in the House and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), is trying to write a reauthorization bill that will appease all factions of his party. But his timeline remains uncertain, as the Bank approaches its lending cap and the expiration of its charter at the end of May.

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