December 13, 2017
Dear Chairman Crapo and Ranking Member Brown: Thank you for scheduling consideration of nominations to the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly supports the nominations of Kimberly Reed, Claudia Slacik, Judith Delzoppo Pryor, and Spencer Bachus to the Ex-Im Board. However, the Chamber strongly opposes the nomination of self-described Ex-Im opponent Scott Garrett as Chair.
Ex-Im has not been fully functional since its charter was allowed to lapse on July 1, 2015. Failure to confirm nominees to the Board after their terms expired last Congress and additional expirations at the start of this Congress have resulted in Ex-Im not having a single Senate-confirmed leader on its five-person board. There are currently $37.5 billion in pending transactions that require approval from the Ex-Im Board—that is, $37.5 billion in high-quality, “made in the USA” products that could be sold to customers around the world simply by having at least three board seats filled.
Additionally, Congress has acted to reform the Bank, but these reforms have been largely stymied by lack of a quorum of the Board. In 2015, supermajorities of the House and Senate demonstrated crystal clear congressional intent to keep a fully functioning Ex-Im Bank, and they also advanced important reforms to the agency. Chief among those reforms was a requirement for Ex-Im to appoint a chief ethics officer and a chief risk officer. Unfortunately, both these appointments require approval by a quorum of Ex-Im’s Board and therefore have not been executed.
Further, over the last 20 years, Ex-Im has generated $7 billion in revenue above its operating costs and returned these funds to Treasury, making this a government program that’s not only smart for business but also a victory for taxpayers. Preventing Ex-Im from approving large deals and, in turn, collecting the associated fees for those deals could make 2018 the first year that Ex-Im stops being self-sufficient. This could further endanger the remaining functioning programs at the Bank, such as products aimed at supporting small exporters.
The Chamber applauds the Committee for holding a confirmation hearing on November 1, 2017, to review the qualifications of these nominees to govern the Ex-Im Bank. We believe that Kimberly Reed, Claudia Slacik, Judith Delzoppo Pryor, and Spencer Bachus proved in that hearing that they would uphold the critical mission of Ex-Im while providing much needed improved governance of the agency.
The Chamber, however, continues to oppose former-Rep. Garrett’s nomination. During his tenure in Congress, Mr. Garrett was among the most vocal opponents of the Bank and a key contributor to the efforts to force a lapse in Ex-Im’s charter. Since his nomination, Mr. Garrett has neither affirmed any change in his core beliefs, nor has he presented his agenda to lead the Bank in its longstanding role as a strong engine for U.S. economic growth overseas.
The inability of one nomination to be confirmed should not hamper the progress of the rest. The Chamber is confident that the same supermajority of the Senate that fought to reauthorize this critical program will vote in support of these four nominations on the floor, allowing Ex-Im to approve deals, implement critical reforms, and fulfill President Trump’s goal of getting Ex-Im back to its fully functional state to allow American exporters to compete to sell American products around the world.
The Chamber believes the Committee can take a positive step towards increasing economic growth by reporting favorably the nominations of Kimberly Reed, Claudia Slacik, Judith Delzoppo Pryor, and Spencer Bachus to the Ex-Im Board. Should the Committee report Scott Garrett’s nomination to lead the Bank to the full Senate, the Chamber would consider including votes related to his nomination in our How They Voted scorecard.
Suzanne P. Clark