Export-Import Bank Back in Business, But Needs Additional Board Members

Export-Import Bank Back in Business, But Needs Additional Board Members

President Obama signed legislation yesterday (December 3) that reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank.  The Bank has not been able to issue new loans to foreign customers seeking to buy U.S. goods since Congress allowed its authorization to lapse at the end of June.

Created in 1934, the Bank helps provide
financing for U.S. exports, including those in the aerospace sector such as communications satellites.  The Bank needs to be periodically reauthorized, a step
taken with little notice until recently when it became a major source of contention in Congress.  Some conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats oppose the Bank on
the grounds that it is a government subsidy — corporate welfare for a
few big companies like Boeing and General Electric — while others hail
the Bank as an important jobs creator by facilitating U.S. exports.

Advocates finally won the day by using a rare parliamentary procedure — a discharge petition — to move the issue from the House Financial Services Committee, whose chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), strongly opposed it, to the floor of the House where all Members could debate and vote on it.  The Bank won reauthorization in that vote, paving the way for final resolution, although it was wrapped into the surface transportation bill (H.R. 22) rather than passing as a standalone piece of legislation.

The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) and the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) have been among the strongest supporters of the bill.  In a statement, AIA said it was “relieved and delighted” that Congress approved a 4-year reauthorization of the Bank.  It pointed out “one last item” that remains, however: additional members of the Board of Directors must be appointed for the Bank to approve loans above $10 million.  Board Directors are appointed by the President and must be confirmed by the Senate.  “We urge President Obama and Senate leadership to nominate and confirm new Members to the Ex-Im Board expeditiously,” AIA said.

EXIM Bank Chairman Eric Hochberg said in a statement yesterday that the Bank is now “ready to receive applications for new transactions,” but asked for patience as it gets its processes back up and running.  He also noted that transactions over $10 million must wait until a quorum of Board members is reestablished.  He and Wanda Felton, Vice Chair, are the only members of the five-member Board at the moment.

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