WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today submitted the following statement into the Congressional Record supporting the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank:
“I rise in support of H.R. 597, as amended. It is mystifying to me why there is such vociferous opposition to the Export-Import Bank among a majority of our Republican colleagues. For decades, a solid majority of Republicans have joined with Democrats to support the Bank and its vital role in creating and sustaining jobs for American workers.
“But not now. Why? The Export-Import Bank should appeal to all Republicans, as it does to us Democrats.
“The Bank supports the American private sector, both exporters and lenders. It steps in only when needed to level the playing field in international competition. Virtually all of its financing is issued as guarantees and insurance of loans by commercial lenders. It finances only American-made goods and American-provided services. Some 90 percent of its financing is for exports by American small businesses, last year some 3300 firms. The result last year was 164,000 jobs for American workers, 6,500 in New York. What could be more business-friendly?
“The Bank should appeal to fiscal conservatives as well. It is operated on a business-like basis. It charges fees, premiums and interest, at full market rates. Those receipts fully cover all the Bank’s expenses. It even generates a surplus that goes to the U.S. Treasury to reduce the federal deficit. Last year, that deficit reduction was $675 million. What could be more fiscally prudent?
“The Bank is a careful lender. Its loss rate is below 2 percent, far lower than any commercial bank. The Bank maintains cash reserves against the risk of loss, currently amounting to $5 billion. All of those reserves are generated from its user fees, not the taxpayer. Why doesn’t that record appeal to Republicans, as it does to Democrats?
“The Bank is a fiscally-prudent solution to a real-world problem: foreign competition that has its own financial support. Some 60 foreign governments operate export finance programs. Some, like China’s, Japan’s, Germany’s and even Canada’s, are much larger than Ex-Im. Financing is a crucial element of trade competition: a company that can bring customer financing to the table often wins the transaction. When foreign governments back their exporters, American exporters and their workers lose. Ex-Im Bank is our answer.
“So I simply cannot understand why a majority of Republicans in this House forced the Bank to close its financing window in July. It can’t be due to subsidy, because there isn’t any. It can’t be due to government competition with the private sector, because the Bank doesn’t do that. It can’t be for any budgetary reason, because the Bank is self-financing.
“For those of us who support Ex-Im Bank and the American firms and workers that the Bank sustains, the only conclusion we can draw is that the excessive campaign against Ex-Im Bank is another example of hard-bitten, intransigent ideology eclipsing the need to embrace a business-friendly, budget-conscious, prudent program for America.”