The House voted last week to reauthorize the charter of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) for another three years. According to the bill, H.R. 2072, the agency will also receive an immediate bump in its borrowing limit, to $120 billion, followed by two $10 billion increases in the next two years, bringing the grand total to $140 billion.
Under the agreement, the increases are contingent on Ex-Im's default rates remaining below 2%. The Treasury Department must also submit regular reports on the bank's efforts and its negotiations with other countries to reduce or eliminate import and export subsidies.
Lawmakers approved the plan by a 330-93 bipartisan margin, with all 93 "no" votes coming from the Republican Party.
"The passage of this bipartisan legislation provides much-needed certainty and predictability to U.S. exporters and their workers by extending the bank’s authority through Fiscal Year 2014 and increasing its portfolio cap to $140 billion," said Ex-Im Chairman and President Fred Hochberg. "The bank will continue financing U.S. exports to meet increasing foreign competition and fill the void when commercial financial support is unavailable. This is a no cost jobs bill. Ex-Im Bank export financing currently supports over 1,000 American jobs every working day."
Hochberg also voiced his hopes for swift Senate approval of the bipartisan legislation, an effort that failed on its first attempt last week. Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) blocked a motion by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to approve the bill by unanimous consent, and instead submitted five amendments to the legislation, each designed to limit Ex-Im's activities in some way. Among the amendments are measures that would put an expiration date of May 31, 2013 on the bank's charter, limit loans, outstanding guarantees and insurance provided by the bank and prohibit the bank from financing energy projects in other countries, among others.
In response, Reid filed for cloture on the bill, setting up a vote for later today. Stay tuned to NACM's blog for updates.
Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer