Cantwell Calls for Unanimous Consent on Export-Import Bank

Cantwell: Every day we wait, more jobs and business opportunities lost.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) took to the Senate Floor to call for unanimous consent on the Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 597), which, if not objected to, would eliminate the need for a formal vote on the bill and send it straight to the president’s desk to become law.

Joined by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Cantwell stressed that American businesses and workers cannot wait and that the Export-Import Bank must be reauthorized immediately to give businesses the tools they need to compete in the global marketplace.

“I know this, my constituents expect me to get up every day and fight for things that will improve the economic opportunity of America. And that's what we're here doing,” said Senator Cantwell in her remarks. “The Export-Import Bank is a great tool to help U.S. manufacturers grow their economic opportunities outside the United States.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked the unanimous consent measure despite 67 senators having supported the previously passed Ex-Im bill.

Cantwell’s full remarks:


Senator Maria Cantwell
Floor Remarks – Ex-Im Bank unanimous consent
Thursday, October 29, 2015

Senator Cantwell: Mr. President, I want to thank my colleague from North Dakota for her continued leadership on this issue and for pointing out to our colleagues that we really could be just a short step away from reenacting a very important business tool for small businesses and for manufacturers and for the agriculture industry by making sure that we reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

What she's referring to is that, it would just take a short agreement here this morning to go ahead and take the House-passed bill that as she just explained was passed after colleagues got a discharge petition. It is the same as the language that we have had over here in the United States Senate.

So the process would be very simple to move forward on this reauthorization. I'm sure she pointed out before I got to the floor that the majority of our colleagues support this, a filibuster-proof majority of our colleagues, 67 of our colleagues. And now we have tremendous support, 313 votes, from the House of Representatives. As she said, we're just a short step away.

So why are we so emphatic about that? Well, why wait? When you look at what has just come out in the financial numbers of 1.5% economic growth, I think something like that, very, I would say, anemic numbers for our economy. I don't know about you, but since we're a very cyclical economy in the Northwest, and we have been for various periods of time in our history, I know this, my constituents expect me to get up every day and fight for things that will improve the economic opportunity of America. And that's what we're here doing.

When you look at 2014, it supported $27.4 billion in U.S. exports and 164,000 jobs. And my colleagues know how much of the economy outside of the United States is growing so we want to sell them U.S.-made products. I think it's one of the biggest economic opportunities in front of us. I believe in what we make.

You know, I complain because I think exotic financial instruments got us into trouble and I want to be known for something in the United States of America besides exotic financial instruments. I like that we make airplanes and automobiles, as the senator from Michigan has joined us on the floor. I like that we make great agricultural products from North Dakota that are then exported around the globe. I visited Bob's Red Mill in Oregon who makes great variety of various grain products that are shipped all over the world. He uses the Export-Import Bank as a way to gain market access because not every bank in Oregon is brave enough to take on a deal in, you know, Tanzania or some other country.

Why? Because the banking doesn't exist there. So the Oregon bank says okay, I’ll bank you, I’ll get Bob's Red Mill sold all those places but I want some credit insurance, and to know that you have an insurance program in case something goes wrong. That's where the Export-Import Bank comes in, in 2014 $27.4 billion U.S. exports and 164,000 jobs.

Where have we been since 2008? It's helped us with 1.4 million jobs. So at a time that we're getting economic information that we've had a somewhat anemic quarter to our economy, it's interesting that it did coincide with this issue of the Export-Import Bank and probably this whole malaise of not getting work done probably didn't make anybody happy in business, the fact that a lot of doubt and uncertainty plagued us.

So if you want to help the economy, let's just agree this morning that the Export-Import Bank is a great tool to help U.S. manufacturers grow their economic opportunities outside the United States.

Let's just agree this morning and get this done and we will be on to moving ahead on this important issue.

Now, some people are saying, let's just wait. Okay? And I’m saying, what you're risking in waiting is more job loss, more small businesses are at risk, and the U.S. economy. Right now there are more than $9 billion Export-Import Bank deals on the table. $9 billion, that can't get done because the bank doesn't exist anymore. If you just think about that, those are U.S. companies who have economic opportunity to do business around the globe that help us grow the U.S. economy at a time when we've been anemic and just by making a motion and no one objecting, we would be able to restart that engine.

Senator Stabenow: Would our leader from Washington state just yield for one quick question?

Senator Cantwell: Yes.

Senator Stabenow: I wanted you to just one more time repeat that - $9 billion is right now in economic activity hanging in the balance?

Senator Cantwell: Yes.

Senator Stabenow: And because of this inactivity, we're losing every single day $9 billion – not $9 million – $9 billion with a "b.”

Senator Cantwell: Yes, that’s the dollar value of deals for U.S. companies being held up that could be moved forward. So, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of calendar number 282, H.R. 597, the Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act, that the bill be read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.

The presiding officer: Is there objection?

Mr. McConnell: Mr. President?

The presiding officer: The Republican leader.

Mr. McConnell: I would remind my colleagues that we've voted on the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank already. There are numerous objections on this side of the aisle. Therefore, I object.        

The presiding officer: Objection is heard.        

Ms. Cantwell: Mr. President, I hope that our colleagues realize this could help us in everything that we're doing. While the Senate has passed the Export-Import Bank, it's part of a larger transportation package that this senator hopes actually will get done, but there are many people who don't want to see the Export-Import Bank done. In fact, some of our colleagues suggested in the recent budget deal that they put a one-year provision in for the Export-Import Bank. So I don't support a one-year provision. We support a five-year reauthorization, and we want to get to that now. We do not want to see more jobs shipped overseas as we continue to have this debate because that's what's happening. We are giving economic opportunity to other businesses to take advantage of our businesses. So I would hope that we would take this up and move it forward so that we can get the economic opportunity back in front of the American people at the time we most critically need it.

Senator Heitkamp: Would my friend from Washington yield for a question?

Senator Cantwell: Yes.          

Senator Heitkamp: We have had four months no opportunity for a small business to actually look at how they can grow that small business. We know we have lost jobs all across America in states where they are challenged economically. Opportunities are there. We know that the large institutions, the large manufacturers in our country, some of which are in your state, rely on this small business chain of businesses, and those are the businesses that have been hit the hardest. If we wait again for another promise after another -- we're going to put it on another vehicle. How much more inactivity? How much more disruption to these small businesses can these small supply chains have given their economics? Isn't it true that a small business is much more challenged by a day delay in opening up the Ex-Im Bank than a large corporation?

Ms. Cantwell: Mr. President, I thank the senator from North Dakota for her question because she is right on the pinpoint of what this issue is about. It is really about small businesses who don't have huge capital reserves to set aside money so that they can guarantee the sale of their product, and as I said there is $9 billion of pending issues before the bank right now, and many of those are small businesses. Those small businesses could be opening up the economic opportunity that might grow their revenue significantly, allow them to hire more jobs, and when you think about the motion that I just made, if no one would have objected, that $9 billion would have been free to go out into the economy, those deals would have gotten done, those small businesses would have been empowered, and we would be on our way to winning in what is an export economy.

Why is it an export economy? Because the growing middle class around the globe is going to double in the next several years. 95% of customers live outside the United States of America. So if we want to win economic opportunity, we have to be able to sell outside the United States of America.

Well, it's hard because not every place in the United States of America is so developed that their banking system is there to do deals. This great company in our state, in Spokane, Washington, SCAFCO, two of my colleagues here, the ranking member on the Ag Committee from Michigan and my colleague from North Dakota, very active in Ag issues, will get it. He is basically making and selling aluminum grain containers, silos, all over the world. That's his business. And he's expanded it. Built new buildings. He's got an incredible work force. So as the rest of the world, particularly in Africa and South America, but even in Asia, start to grow their agricultural economies, guess what they need. They need Ag equipment. I'm sure the senator from Michigan understands that because she has some of those manufacturers. So those manufacturers have a huge opportunity to sell U.S.-made agriculture equipment.

I like to say: Guess what we're still number one at in the United States of America -- agriculture. We know how to do agriculture. Guess what the next big economic opportunity around the globe is: feeding the growing middle class around the globe. It's one of the biggest economic opportunities. But guess what? You have to be able to sell them things. You have to be able to sell them Michigan manufactured products. You have to be able to sell them the agriculture products that my colleague from North Dakota makes. SCAFCO needs to be able to sell their grain silos. But no, they can't because people want to hold up this process all to put a trophy on someone's desk saying they did the bidding of a very conservative think tank that last I knew, don't think they created any of these manufacturing jobs in America. So I hope my colleagues will help us continue this debate because I know that there are some that will say okay, well, we passed this bill and it's going to get done someday. Someday, really? Because you know what? Everybody said we'll get it on the transportation bill in April. Okay. Guess what? That didn't happen. They did an extension. That didn't happen. We'll get it on a transportation bill in July and the bank won't expire. Guess what, it expired. Now they're telling us to wait again and we do not want to wait on creating more U.S jobs.