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After five long months, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to revive the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), and the Senate is expected to follow suit on Friday. This would restore a vital resource that U.S. businesses have depended on for decades to help them sell their goods and services to customers around the world.
For 80 years, Ex-Im provided vital financing and insurance services to American firms that sell to customers abroad, but that all came to a halt when Congress allowed the bank’s charter to expire at the end of June.
In the months since, thousands of U.S. companies - many of them small businesses - have been without the resources they need to compete in the global market, as every other major trading nation offers an export credit agency akin to Ex-Im. In some cases, American companies haven’t even been allowed to bid on work overseas because the project requires the backing from a national export credit agency. As a result, some firms have seen projects stall, revenues dry up, and jobs start to disappear.
That's why several lawmakers and industry representatives took a moment on Thursday to celebrate this important victory for America’s business community.
“Ex-Im’s support is especially important to small and medium-sized businesses, which account for nearly 90 percent of the bank’s transactions,” Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said during a press conference on Capitol Hill. Josten noted that thousands more small businesses supply goods to large American exporters and thus also benefit from Ex-Im’s support.
For every one of those businesses, Josten explained, “failure to secure a long-term reauthorization of Ex-Im would have meant unilateral disarmament in the face of other governments’ far more aggressive export credit programs.”
Josten was joined at the press conference by Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.) and Denny Heck (D-Wash.), and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), all of whom were instrumental in helping move the bill through the House.
The Ex-Im reauthorization measure was approved in tandem with much-needed transportation funding legislation, and the White House has said that President Barack Obama will sign the package into law without delay. Importantly, the legislation will renew Ex-Im’s charter for four years, through September 2019.
“The bank has won overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress in recent months,” Josten said on Thursday. “We’re pleased to see a pathway to reopening this important tool for American exporters.”