Congress extends Ex-Im – Big bleepin’ deal for Boeing

Source: Seattle PI

The U.S. Export-Import Bank is not a household name, but for The Boeing Co. “Ex-Im” it is, to borrow a phrase made famous by Vice President Joe Biden, a big (bleepin’) deal.

The bank makes loans to, and guarantees loans for, U.S. exporters.  And more than one-third of its $32 billion in loans and guarantees made by Ex-Im last year went to Boeing.

Hence, there were sighs of relief  in both Washingtons on Tuesday when Congress — in a rare show of bipartisan cooperation — renewed Ex-Im’s charter for three years and upped its lending authority.

“The Club for Growth and Heritage Foundation were against this tool for job creation . . . It’s somehow part of the Tea Party attitude to dismantle these programs,” Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in an interview.  Cantwell sits on both the Finance and Commerce committees in the Senate.

Cantwell, a policy wonk, spent a recent congressional recess touring Washington’s export economy and businesses dependent on Ex-Im.  She pushed beyond Boeing to talk about Scafco, a Spokane company that builds and exports grain silos and steel framing products.

Scafco now does business in 79 countries.  And Cantwell went to a small West Side business that ships music stands to China.  “We are probably the number one state, from a job perspective, that has benefited from the Export-Import Bank,” said Cantwell.

The rare bipartisan cooperation involved Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, whose eastern Washington constituency includes Scafco and a fair number of Boeing jobs in the Spokane area.

McMorris-Rodgers is a member of the House Republican leadership.

President Obama applauded renewal of the 77-year-old bank, saying in a statement that Ex-Im “helps American business create jobs here at home and sell their products around the world — all at no cost to the taxpayers.”

“Now, Congress needs to keep going,” Obama added, ticking off other job creation programs.

He’s not likely to get his wish.  The U.S. House of Representatives, with a big contingent of Tea Party freshmen facing reelection, is spending all of 109 days this year doing the public’s business in the nation’s capital.