Cantwell to U.S. Chamber: Tell Republicans They’re Wrong on Ex-Im Bank

Senator calls for Ex-Im reauthorization, investments in workforce training as Congress considers Trade Promotion Authority


WASHINGTON, D.C. – While answering questions today from Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue agreed that the Export-Import Bank is important to American industry and “thousands and thousands of small companies.”

“Mr. Donohue, could you please tell the Republican presidential candidates that they are wrong about the Ex-Im Bank?” Cantwell said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

Cantwell called for reauthorization of the “Ex-Im Bank” and more investment in workforce training as Congress considers TPA legislation, which it uses to set trade negotiating objectives and enforcement provisions, and to establish notification and consultation requirements from the President in negotiating trade agreements.

“I believe that we have to have these tools that work together like the Ex-Im Bank, and Trade Adjustment Assistance, and an investment in apprentice programs and things that go along with this,” Cantwell said. “Otherwise, it’s only shareholders at the top level benefitting from these deals and not working people, and I think that I would put up our manufacturing skills against anybody in the world.”

Cantwell has been a leader in fighting for a long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which is a financing tool that helps American companies export products or services. In 2014, it supported $27 billion in total U.S. export sales and 164,000 jobs. The Export-Import Bank supports more than 230 exporters in Washington state, two-thirds of which are small businesses. Unless Congress extends the agency’s charter, it will expire on June 30.

“We talk to people in the Republican world about presidential policies, and you’re damn right we tell them,” Donohue said. “I have told three of them myself, and I have a plan to have a visit with some of these people in the normal course of business and point out what the Bank means to this country and to American industry, and particularly, to thousands and thousands of small companies.”

Donohue was testifying with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka during Tuesday’s hearing.

“I’m always struck when you two gentlemen are before the committee that there are many things that you actually agree on. And workforce training and the Ex-Im Bank seem to be two of those,” Cantwell said.

The Ex-Im Bank authorized 3,340 small-business transactions in fiscal year 2014. The Ex-Im Bank helps U.S. companies compete in an international market where about 60 countries – including the world’s top 10 exporters – have similar export credit agencies.

“I come from a big manufacturing state with a lot of labor members in it, and it has a lot of people who support trade – in fact, one in three jobs is related to trade,” Cantwell said.