Support for Extending Ex-Im Charter Grows

 

September 2014

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A new bipartisan bill, introduced July 30 by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), aims to extend the charter of the Export-Import Bank until 2019, as well as increase the program’s lending capacity from $140 billion to $160 billion.

 

Often referred to as simply Ex-Im, the Export-Import Bank helps support American maritime jobs and many other employment opportunities in different sectors of the economy. The charter, which has been in place for 80 years, is set to expire Sept. 30 unless Congress approves this extension.

 

Other initial co-sponsors of the bill included Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Sen. Tim Johnson, (D-South Dakota) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia).

 

Two days before the bill was introduced, SIU members and officials joined Warner at a press conference in Norfolk, Virginia where the senator spelled out many reasons the charter should be extended.

 

 

Seafarers in attendance included QMED Van Dixon, AB Mike Haloski, OS Mario Borgonia, QMED Marcus Gramby, SA Emy Smith (and her niece, Tillah), QMED Kevin Daughtry, ABG Julius Morala, ABG Jonathan Davis, QEE Nakesha Miller, GVA Donte Sawyer and Port Agent Georg Kenny. AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department Executive Secretary- Treasurer Daniel Duncan introduced the senator to the crowd.

 

Warner explained how important the Ex-Im Bank is to the commerce of Virginia, helping to provide for thousands upon thousands of good jobs across the state as well as the nation.

 

“Since 2007, the Export-Import Bank has helped finance $1 billion of exports from nearly 100 Virginia companies, more than half of them small businesses, as well as supported more than 11,000 Virginia jobs,” he said, adding that the agency does not cost taxpayers anything, and in fact has paid more than $1 billion into the U.S. Treasury.

 

Warner said he could not understand how others were attacking the bank when it has supported 1.2 million jobs over the last five years; when nearly 90 percent of its transactions were with small businesses; when the bank returned money from its fees to help reduce the nation’s deficits; and when it does not cost U.S. taxpayers “a dime.”

 

In remarks on the Senate floor, Kaine had ready examples of reasons why the Ex-Im Bank is vital to American economic efforts.

 

“In Virginia, generally since ’07, the Ex-Im Bank has supported 98 companies in every Congressional district,” he said. “Fifty-nine are small businesses; 10 are minority-owned; three are women-owned. More than $1 billion in exports have been supported in Virginia since 2007. I have heard from everybody in Virginia, from Governor (Terry) McAuliffe to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce to both the National and Virginia Association of Manufacturers, saying, ‘Whatever you do, find an agreement to authorize the continuation of this very important bank.’”

 

Kaine added, “The Senate and Congress need to act to continue the bank so we can create hundreds of thousands of jobs, so we can help American businesses find customers abroad, and do it at no cost to the American taxpayer.”

 

The Manchin bill is in line with what President Barack Obama has said he wants: a five-year reauthorization, with a gradual increase of its lending limit to $160 billion.

 

Support for the bill is growing. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has also voiced his backing of the Ex-Im reauthorization. On the Senate floor, Reid said, “We need o find a way forward on this. It would be a shame if we weren’t able to renew this.”

 

Sen. Lindsay Graham (RSouth Carolina) is in favor of the reauthorization as well, saying, “I’m 100 percent for reauthorization for five years. I’m for straight-up reauthorization, and I don’t mind reforms as long as they don’t gut the program.”

 

Graham also talked about how the Ex-Im Bank is a necessary component to keeping America competitive in the world marketplace. Other nations all have their respective equivalents of this program, he said.

 

Sen. Claire McCaskill (DMissouri) has rallied support from companies in Missouri, urging them in a letter to send in stories of how funding from the Ex-Im Bank has helped businesses in the state compete on the global stage.

 

In the letter, McCaskill said, “I strongly support the reauthorization of the Export- Import Bank to help the thousands of Missourians who benefit from the Export- Import Bank. This month, the Senate is expected to take up legislation to extend the authorization of the Export- Import Bank. Without similar action from the House of Representatives, the authorization for the Export-Import Bank will expire, and U.S. businesses will lose this valuable resource. We cannot let this happen.”

 

Sen. Mary Landrieu (DLouisiana) in early August also called on Congress to reauthorize the program. “Now is the time to provide certainty to American businesses looking to ship their goods and services abroad by reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank,” she said. “I call on all members of Congress from both parties to pass it as soon as possible.”

 

In addition to the bill’s supporters in Congress, 31 governors have also signed a letter urging senate leaders to pass the charter extension, with five more having written letters of their own. Several key business groups have also rallied behind the reauthorization bill, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers.

 

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has voiced his support, saying, “This is not a political thing – this is something that every other country does. If we’re going to be competitive, we have to do it.”

 

Former president Bill Clinton has weighed in on the importance of the Ex-Im Bank, saying, “Economics is not theology. If you’re running a country, you’ve got to try to create an opportunity for all of your businesses to be competitive. That’s all the Ex-Im bank does, and I’ve heard more ridiculous things said about the Ex-Im bank in the last six months than I have in my adult life.”

 

Earlier this year, SIU President Michael Sacco said in a letter to Congress, “The Export- Import Bank is a valued source for decent American jobs within the U.S.-flag merchant fleet. Cargo generated by Ex-Im Bank funding must be transported aboard U.S.-flag vessels. This means tens of thousands of jobs for American citizens throughout the country.”


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