Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization Update

The Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im Bank), a self-sustaining federal agency, is the official export credit agency (ECA) of the U.S. It helps finance American exports of manufactured goods and services, with the objective of contributing to the employment of U.S. workforce, primarily in circumstances when alternative financing is not available. Ex-Im Bank’s main programs are direct loans, loan guarantees, working capital guarantees and export credit insurance.

The Bank operates under a renewable charter, the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, as amended. Ex-Im Bank’s most recent reauthorization was in 2006, when Congress extended the Bank’s authority through FY2011 which means unless it is reauthorized the Bank’s charter will expire on Sept. 30, 2011.

On June 1, 2011, H.R. 2072, the Securing American Jobs Through Exports Act of 2011, was introduced and referred to the House Financial Services Committee. H.R. 2072, which would extend Ex-Im Bank’s authority through Sept. 30, 2015 was approved by a voice vote on June 22 and ordered to be reported favorably to the full House floor for final passage. Similarly, the Senate Banking Committee held a mark-up of their version, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 1547) on Sept. 8 which now awaits Senate floor action.

The staffs from both Committees have had meetings and only a few issues still needed to be sorted out before any floor votes happen. One includes differences on the Iran sanctions provision, in the House bill it prohibits Ex-Im from doing transactions with any person who may be sanctioned under Sec. 5 of the 1996 Act, Sec. 106 under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA) and 560 of the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR). Meanwhile, the Senate requires certification from a person that they are not engaging in sanctionable activities.

The ideal scenario for moving forward that has been sketched out includes the Senate passing it under a Unanimous Consent (UC) followed by the House moving the Senate version forward under Suspension. However, the large government Continuing Resolution (CR) that is being debated includes a provision to keep the Bank operating until the CR expires on November 18. House and Senate staff believe the reauthorization bill will have passed by that time, primarily, because both sides seem committed to pushing the process forward and trying to wrap-up Ex-Im reauthorization in the next several weeks.

The Bank enables U.S. companies — large and small — to turn export opportunities into real sales that helps to maintain and create U.S. jobs and contribute to a stronger national economy. For FY 2010, Ex-Im supported an estimated $24 billion in export sales, and 227,000 U.S. jobs at over 3,300 companies.

The Bank is financially self-sustaining and generates revenue for the U.S. government. Even when the Bank’s business grows as it supports more U.S. companies in the future, this growth will not burden the American taxpayer. In the five years since Congress last reauthorized the Bank, Ex-Im has returned billions of dollars to the U.S. Treasury and has helped pay down the Federal debt. In fact, Ex-Im has returned $3.5 billion to the Treasury above costs and loss reserves over the past decade.

SBEA is working to ensure that reauthorization of the Bank is done in a timely manner. SBEA’s continued focus is on educating Congress about the Bank’ critical role in supporting American exports and jobs in the face of competition with aggressive support from other ECAs as well as the need for a competitive Ex-Im Bank.

Please click here to view SBEA testimony on this issue.