The Export-Import Bank has been battling for its life since its authorization expired on June 30, but on Wednesday the House of Representatives made a move that ensures the lender will remain in limbo until at least September when Congress’ annual recess ends.
American businesses use the bank for the loan guarantees that let them do business abroad.
Instead of approving the Senate’s version of a federal highway bill that had an inclusion for reauthorizing the bank, the House passed its own version of the highway funding bill which excludes any mention of the bank’s revival. As of now, the EXIM bank can only manage existing accounts but can’t make any new loans.
Because the funding for highway programs runs out Friday, the Senate will have little other choice than to approve the House-passed three-month funding extension bill this week so that necessary monies will still flow to states for roads and bridges.
Proponents of the EXIM bank say leaving the bank’s fate uncertain for so long could mean big job losses.
Boeing, EXIM Bank’s biggest beneficiary in terms of total dollars lent to other countries to buy American goods, has already alluded to taking its airplane building business abroad if it isn’t going to have access to the bank.
“We love making and designing airplanes in the United States, but we are now forced to think about doing it differently,” Boeing chairman James McNerney said in a talk at the Economic Club of Washington, MarketWatch reported. “I’m more worried about it today than I ever have [been].”
And other businesses are rallying too.
More than 100 companies, nonprofits and industry groups have been lobbying Congress on EXIM this year and have promised to keep up the fight despite Wednesday’s setback.
“The sheer number of groups lobbying to keep the bank afloat could help proponents make their case to Congress that Ex-Im is an essential tool to keep U.S. firms competitive in global markets, not just a benefactor to a few firms,” The Hill reported Thursday.
The bank’s critics, however, who consider the lending a form of “corporate welfare” will be glad to let EXIM expire.
One of the bank’s biggest detractors, Dan Holler, a spokesman for activist conservative group Heritage Action has voiced his opinion across multiple media outlets citing the “slush fund’s” lack of importance and showing his support for shrinking the federal government’s reach.