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CEO DATELINE – Business groups seek to restore Export-Import Bank

May 7, 2019
By Walt Williams

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Business groups are urging the U.S. Senate to confirm three presidential nominees to the board of the Export-Import Bank later this week even as some conservative organizations continue to call for the elimination of the government agency.

The mission of the Ex-Im Bank to encourage the export of U.S. goods and services through loans and other forms of financial aid. The agency is popular with the business community but not among many hardline conservatives who view it as government interference in the free market.

The Ex-Im Bank was briefly hobbled in 2015 when House Republicans forced the agency’s charter to lapse, although a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers restarted the bank soon afterward, Politico reported. Since then, the U.S. Senate has refused to confirm nominees to the agency’s board, depriving it of a quorum needed to approve financial transitions of more than $10 million.

The Senate is expected to confirm three appointees to the board even though conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation are lobbying against the appointments. However, several influential business groups are urging lawmakers to restore the Ex-Im Bank’s board, including the National Association of Manufacturers, which is key voting the confirmations.

“Manufacturers in America have lost approximately $119 billion in output as a result, translating into 80,000 fewer American manufacturing jobs in 2016 and 2017. At the same time, nearly 100 foreign export credit agencies supported by countries from China and Russia to Brazil and Germany have been growing to promote exports on behalf of their industries and workers,” NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

Aerospace Industries Association CEO Eric Fanning also urged lawmakers to take action.

“Should the nominees be confirmed, the Bank will be fully functional for the first time in four years,” he said. “By creating quorum for the Bank, we are sending a clear signal that America is serious about competing in the global marketplace.”

The nominees are Kimberly Reed as board president and Spencer Bachus and Judith DelZoppo Pryor as board members.