Senate Committee Approves Ex-Im Chair’s Nomination

June 12, 2013

pic-ex-im-exportsOn June 6, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee approved Fred P. Hochberg’s, second four-year term as Chairman and President of the Export Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the U.S. He was easily approved by a vote of 20-2. Senators not in attendance—Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.)—voted “aye” by proxy, and Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) by proxy voted against the nomination. The nominee is now sent to the floor of the Senate for a final confirmation vote.

Ex-Im Bank, a self-sustaining federal agency, is the official export credit agency (ECA) of the U.S. It helps finance American exports of manufactured goods and services, with the objective of contributing to the employment of U.S. workforce, primarily in circumstances when alternative financing is not available.

The Bank continues to be a vital tool in leveling the global playing field, helping U.S. companies offset the financing support their foreign competitors receive from governments overseas and aide in securing new customers in emerging markets. Ex-Im Bank authorized more than $35 billion in financing in FY2012, supporting more than 255,000 American jobs. In FY2008 Ex-Im Bank financed $3.2 billion in direct small-business exports, while for FY2012, the Bank financed a total $7.5 billion in small-business exports of which $6.1 billion was direct. At Ex-Im Bank, small business accounted for 88 percent of all transactions last year.

By law, the Bank’s Board of Directors must have a quorum—or three of its five members—to approve transactions. Chairman Hochberg was previously confirmed by the Senate on May 14, 2009. His first term ended on Jan. 20 and he is currently leading the Bank under a six-month extension. Vice Chair Wanda Felton and Director Larry Walthers are also continuing to serve under similar extensions and the Obama administration has not yet nominated anyone for those positions.  The extensions allowed under the Bank’s charter will expire in July. Therefore, Hochberg needs to be confirmed before July 20; otherwise, the Bank’s business will grind to a halt and transactions will not get approval.

Hochberg was easily confirmed in 2009—by unanimous consent in the Senate—and saw the Bank through a difficult reauthorization fight last year that renewed the Bank’s charter for three years and raised the limit on the total financing the Bank can guarantee, to $140 billion from $100 billion.

Meanwhile, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) have introduced legislation (S. 1102 and H.R. 2263) to shut down Ex-Im Bank. The Export-Import Bank Termination Act would shut down the Bank’s financing activities after a year and hand the entity over to the Treasury Department to wind down all Bank operations and delegate any needed authorities to other government agencies. Under the bills, the Bank could not take new applications for export finance assistance 30 days after the bill becomes law. The organization could not renew or enter into contracts to extend credit after 12 months. In the House, Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) are cosponsors of the bill.