Export-Import Bank One Step Closer to Reauthorization

We’ve written before about the importance of the Export-Import Bank to our state. Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives drew one step closer to reauthorizing the bank

Several dozen Republicans teamed up with Democrats on Friday to assure a House vote on reviving the U.S. Export-Import Bank, giving the effort to save the bank new life more than three months after its charter lapsed.

The development came as bank supporters got a majority of the House to sign a petition to dislodge a measure to revive it from a powerful panel controlled by a bank opponent. The bank helps finance sales of U.S. exports to foreign customers.

The bank’s charter expired June 30, and it has been unable to approve new applications to help overseas buyers get financing to purchase U.S. products like airplanes and heavy equipment. Supporters say the bank helps sustain tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

Even by the standards of today’s politics, the discharge petition is high drama, underscoring what’s at stake. As The Hill reports, the resolution required bipartisan support. 

The stealth operation to save the Export-Import Bank started with a simple conversation on the House floor.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), the second-ranking House Democrat, approached Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) with a proposition: Let’s work together.

It was a risky move, rarely taken.

“This is a once in a generation thing,” Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) told reporters. “

The Atlantic also has a good look inside the politics.

The move doesn’t quite guarantee that Ex-Im—as it’s known in Washington—will be reauthorized. The Senate has approved it, but as part of a separate highway bill that hasn’t passed the House. And while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he won’t block renewal of the bank’s charter despite his personal opposition, there’s no equivalent process to quickly force a vote in the upper chamber.

“The Senate is not going to spend a week on a bill that the leader doesn’t support,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said. Still, supporters of the bank said that once bipartisan majorities are established in both the House and Senate, final passage is only a matter of time. 

For a good local perspective, read Don Brunell’s column.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Washington state is the largest single beneficiary of Export-Import financing, largely due to Boeing, which sold $64 billion in Ex-Im financed exports from 2007 to 2012.  

But it’s not just Boeing, says Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business. “Of the 183 exporters in the state of Washington that use the Ex-Im bank, 133 are small- and medium-sized businesses.”

It’s good to see bipartisan action in Congress on an issue of vital importance to the economy here and throughout the nation.