Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization Faces Challenge
As the Senate considers House-passed securities legislation (H.R. 3606) this week, a bipartisan group of Senators hope to attach an amendment to the bill which would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank's ("Ex-Im Bank" or the "Bank") charter. The Ex-Im Bank supports U.S. exports through a variety of direct loan, credit financing and insurance programs for foreign purchasers of American products. The Bank's current charter is set to expire in May, and the Bank is closely approaching its statutorily imposed loan limit of $100 billion. The Senate amendment, offered by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), as well as Senate Banking Committee leaders Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), would reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank's charter through 2015 and increase its statutory loan limit from $100 billion to $140 billion. The Ex-Im Bank has historically enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Congress and among major U.S. business groups, who view the Bank as a key tool in facilitating U.S. exports and creating domestic jobs. The Ex-Im Bank's critics, including key conservative House Republicans and the Club for Growth, contend that the Bank is merely subsidizing the largest U.S. companies, potentially at the expense of American taxpayers. Furthermore, some major U.S. air carriers have recently expressed strong opposition to the Ex-Im Bank's foreign airline financing policy, which they believe gives foreign competitors an unfair advantage by facilitating their purchase of Boeing airplanes.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has expressed opposition to Senate efforts to attach controversial Ex-Im Bank reauthorization to H.R. 3606, and he recently announced plans to introduce alternative reauthorization legislation to extend the Ex-Bank's charter another year and raise the Bank's loan limit to $113 billion. In the event that the Senate amendment to H.R. 3606 is adopted, there is a possibility that House Republican leaders will request a House-Senate conference on the amended bill, rather than schedule an up or down vote. This would likely provide Majority Leader Cantor with a better opportunity to insert his own alternative Ex-Im Bank reauthorization language in the final version of the bill.