Senate to Talk to Ex-Im Nominee

On Thursday, July 19, the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs will hold a hearing on two recent nominees from President Donald Trump, including Kimberly Reed, nominee for President of the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im). Reed was named by Trump in June, and would take over for Jeffrey Gerrish who was appointed acting president of Ex-Im back in April. Prior to Gerrish, Ex-Im hadn’t had a president since Trump took office.

Ex-Im operates under a renewable statutory charter, which was most recently extended through Sept. 30, 2019. In addition to gaps in leadership at Ex-Im, the last of the bank’s five board members quit in March, and since 2015, it has not had the quorum of at least three members it needs to finance deals or projects worth more than $10 million.

Ms. Reed had already been approved by the Senate Banking Committee to serve as the Ex-Im Bank’s vice president, but President Trump withdrew that nomination on June 20 when picking her to serve atop the agency. A bipartisan majority of senators on the Banking panel blocked confirmation of Trump’s original pick, former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), amid concerns that he would try to hamstring the bank from within if confirmed.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), an Ex-Im opponent, has a hold on the other three Ex-Im nominees—Spencer Bachus, Judith Pryor and Claudia Slacik—who were approved by the Senate Banking Committee and are pending on the Senate floor and he has pledged to derail further confirmations as a protest against Garrett’s rejection.

In recent years, Ex-Im has been barely functional. According to its most recent annual report, Ex-Im authorized just $3.4 billion of mostly short-term export credit in 2017. That is down from the $20 billion that it authorized in 2014, the last year that the bank was fully operational. The report points out that China provided $34 billion in medium- and long-term financing for its exports in 2016, underscoring the competitive disadvantage that the U.S. faces.

After Ex-Im’s board became empty in March, NSBA and its international trade arm—the Small Business Exporters Association (SBEA)—continued to call for the Senate to hold a floor vote on the pending nominees, as the lack of action is costing American jobs and competitiveness overseas, leading to trade imbalances and slower growth opportunities, especially for small exporters.