After Cantwell Speech, Senate Votes to Confirm Ex-Im Bank Chairman
Key trade agency supports 83,000 jobs in Washington state; would have ceased lending by Sunday if nominee wasn’t confirmed
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate confirmed Fred P. Hochberg as Chairman of the Export-Import Bank by a vote of 82-17 after U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) spoke on the floor in support of his confirmation. Cantwell cited business across Washington state – from Manhasset music stand company in Yakima to SCAFCO grain silo manufacturers in Spokane – which have benefitted from Export-Import financing.
Watch a video of Senator Cantwell’s floor speech here.
Hochberg is currently the Bank’s chair and his first term will expire on July 20. Without today’s approval, the Ex-Im Bank would not have had the necessary quorum to approve new transactions and would have effectively shut down. During her speech Cantwell highlighted how the Ex-Im Bank supports 83,000 jobs in Washington state and supported more than 255,000 jobs in the United States in 2012. Cantwell detailed how businesses need the bank to continue to create jobs and opportunities.
Excerpts from Senator Cantwell’s remarks:
- “We’re here today to talk about a critical vote to support 255,000 jobs that are part of our export economy. If we fail to confirm Fred Hochberg for a second term as Chairman of the Export-Import Bank, businesses across the United States will lose a key tool in job creation.”
- “If we don’t confirm Hochberg this week the bank cannot approve loans. And it would take away a job-creating tool that American innovators and businesses count on. And that’s why I’m calling on my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to confirm Mr. Hochberg as the Export-Import Bank Chairman for a second term.”
- “The Export-Import Bank helps American-made products be shipped all around the world. I saw a company in Yakima, Washington, the Manhasset music stand company, which uses the bank to make sure sales go all around the globe, including China. I saw a grain silo manufacturer called SCAFCO in Spokane which also would testify to the fact that they have been able to sell their grain silos in many countries around the globe because of the financing the Export-Import Bank guarantees. Airline cockpit hardware made by a company – Esterline in Everett, Washington – also testified to the same effect.”
- “So the U.S. can be left at the starting line or the U.S. can use this vital tool that I call a tactic for small business to get access, to make sure their products get a final sale. The Export-Import Bank supports 83,000 jobs in my state alone, which benefits from the finance mechanism.”
Last year Cantwell worked for months to get the bank’s reauthorization to President Obama’s desk and hailed his signing of the reauthorization on May 30, 2012. She was one of the most vocal supporters for reauthorization and in April 2012, joined local businesses in Spokane, Yakima, Moses Lake, and Everett to call for Congress to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank. On March 15, 2012, Cantwell introduced a bipartisan amendment to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank. Earlier in February 2012, Cantwell joined Senate Small Business Committee members in urging Senate leadership to move forward on reauthorizing the bank.
The full text of Senator Cantwell’s remarks as delivered follows:
Madam President, I rise to speak in support of Fred Hochberg and his nomination to his second term as Chairman of the Export-Import Bank. And I’ve heard now two speeches on the other side of the aisle from my colleagues who not only seem to take exception with Mr. Hochberg as a nominee but the Export-Import Bank in of itself.
I think they are wrong. I think they are wrong because they don’t understand Washington’s need to focus on the fact that we have an export economy. We want U.S. products to be bought and sold in countries and markets all over the world.
We’re here today to talk about a critical vote to support 255,000 jobs that are part of our export economy. If we fail to confirm Fred Hochberg for a second term as Chairman of the Export-Import Bank, businesses across the United States will lose a key tool in job creation.
That’s because his term expires – runs out – on July 20th. What would that mean? It would mean the Export-Import Bank that needs at least 3 of its 5 board members to have a quorum would not have a quorum and would not be able to issue any new loans. That means that the transactions that US companies depend on – the guarantees and the transactions to finance the sale of US products and services overseas – would not be able to move forward.
If we don’t confirm Hochberg this week, the bank cannot approve loans. And it would take away a job-creating tool that American innovators and businesses count on. And that’s why I’m calling on my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to confirm Mr. Hochberg as the Export-Import Bank Chairman for a second term.
His nomination is supported by the Chamber of Commerce and by the National Association of Manufacturers. He has proven to be a solid leader in his organization by listening, implementing, innovating, and administering a very critical job-creation tool. When I visited businesses across my state in 2012 to talk about the Export-Import Bank, I heard that American people wanted us to focus on job creation and supporting business.
And the Export-Import Bank helps American-made products be shipped all around the world. I saw a company in Yakima, Washington, the Manhasset music stand company, which uses the bank to make sure sales go all around the globe, including China. I saw a grain silo manufacturer called SCAFCO in Spokane which also would testify to the fact that they have been able to sell their grain silos in many countries around the globe because of the financing the Export-Import Bank guarantees.
Airline cockpit hardware made by a company – Esterline in Everett, Washington – also testified to the same effect. That when you are looking around the globe to secure financing of U.S. products into more developing countries, it’s hard to get the financing to work. So the U.S. can be left at the starting line or the U.S. can use this vital tool that I call a tactic for small business to get access, to make sure their products get a final sale.
The Export-Import Bank supports 83,000 jobs in my state alone, which benefits from the finance mechanism. And over the last five years it has supported many jobs throughout the United States. Overall it supports as I said 255,000 jobs and more than 3,000 businesses in 2012. And in this small business area, 2,500 of those are small businesses. So the notion that this is crony capitalism, or maybe he’s talking about the shenanigans that happened on Wall Street, but he’s certainly not talking about the Export-Import Bank. So I am advocating that we keep the very positive results of this bank and keep Mr. Hochberg going to make sure that we continue to sell our products from Everett, Washington or Auburn, Kentucky all over the globe.
95% of the world's consumers live outside our borders. So the question is, are we going to make sure that U.S. products get into the hands of the growing middle-class around the globe? In 2030, China's middle class will be 1 billion people – 1 billion middle-class people in China, up from 150 million today. And India's middle class will grow 800% from 50 million to 475 million. So we need our businesses large and small to have the tools to reach this new growing pool of consumers.
And not only does this help businesses, the Ex-IM Bank also helps taxpayers. So I don't know where crony capitalism comes from, but I don't know a program where this program is a very good deal for the U.S. Department of Treasury. In fact, it returned nearly $1.6 billion to the U.S. Treasury since 2005. So it actually is helping us return money to the Treasury, and it helps our businesses continue to grow in export markets.
As we speak, there are almost $4 billion in transactions awaiting approval for the bank. That is, if we don't approve the chairman, these deals might not go through. That is a lot of American businesses counting on that transaction so that they can compete in an international market. The international competitor is not going to wait until we approve Mr. Hochberg. If we delay this, they're going to go ahead and cash in on the business deals and their competitors will win.
I think the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it best in a 2011 letter to congressional leaders: "The export-import bank allows U.S. companies large and small to turn export opportunities into real sales that help create real jobs in the United States of America."
I was proud that Mr. Hochberg came to Seattle last year for an opening of a regional Ex-Im office to really focus on even more small businesses and to make sure that they can get the financing for end products to get to these markets. We should be moving more towards policies to help the businesses, the small businesses, grow with confidence into these international markets.
So I ask my colleagues to do the right thing and follow through and confirm this chairman.
Since its creation in 1934, the Ex-Im Bank was approved by unanimous consent or voice vote 24 times. 24 times. So, 24 times no one called this crony capitalism. No, they were supporting it, and last time we authorized it, it had 78 votes.
It ended up in the House of Representatives with 330 votes. I’m pointing this out because all the delays in not supporting this or delaying Mr. Hochberg’s nomination hurts business when – in the end – the majority of my colleagues do agree that this is a vital tool to help make sure that we boost products made in America.
And in the last reauthorization, we did make improvements to strengthen the Ex-Im bank: quarterly reports are delivered on the default rates which now can't go above 2%, the government accountability also is required to work with risk management structures to make sure that loans and businesses are not too risky, transactions above a certain dollar amount receive public comment and they deliver a yearly report on those transactions.
And I know my colleagues have mentioned this issue about aviation, and I can guarantee you as the Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, I want U.S. airline industries to be as competitive in international markets. And so certainly working together – the world community on financing of airplane sales – are all working together to make sure that those are based closer to market-based rates and working on the same page. So these financing schemes work together.
The 2011 Aircraft Sector Understanding sets out the terms and conditions on how airlines can finance aircraft purchases using government-backed financing. The Understanding requires a closer alignment with commercial market borrowing rates. This agreement covers all major trading partners except China.
So all of these improvements that we continue to make in the Ex-Im Bank, I think, are important and, as I said, Mr. Hochberg has been open to many discussions of how we move ahead. But let's not deny the fact that in developing markets, a financial tool like the Ex-Im Bank that actually delivers on helping job creation in the United States by getting the sales of many different U.S. products into these developing countries and growing middle classes is a very good thing for the United States.
And the fact that it returns to the taxpayer is very positive. So let's not let this slip another moment. Let’s get Mr. Hochberg back to the task at hand – which is approving these transactions so US companies can continue to grow jobs here by accessing new markets overseas. I thank the president, and I yield the floor.
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