Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Heads to President for Signature into Law

40% of WA jobs are tied to trade, Ex-Im helps Washington businesses reach foreign markets and generate $31 billion in export revenue

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded Senate passage of a seven-year reauthorization of the United States Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im). The Senate overwhelmingly passed the legislation, 71-23, as part of a package of end-of-year appropriations bills. After previously passing in the House of Representatives, the legislation now goes to the president’s desk for signature into law. The reauthorization also includes a fix to quorum rules that have plagued the bank’s Board of Directors in recent years.  

Ex-Im provides the financing support necessary to help thousands of American businesses export their products to overseas markets – where more than 95% of the world’s consumers live. The Export-Import Bank helps ensure that American companies can compete on a level playing field with global competitors. This is critical in Washington—the fourth-largest exporting state in the country by value of merchandise and commodities—where approximately 40% of all jobs are tied to trade. In November 2019 alone, Ex-Im financed more than $2.5 million in exports from Washington state businesses.

“Washington’s economy is an export economy, and stopping the partisan politics around the nation’s export credit agency and giving certainty to the Export-Import Bank for seven years will help lots of Washington businesses get their products to the growing middle class around the world,” Senator Cantwell said.

Ex-Im was founded in 1934 and exists in its current form under the Export-Impact Bank Act of 1945, which requires periodic reauthorization from Congress in order to continue operating.  The House and Senate-passed appropriations bill will reauthorize Ex-Im for 7 years, giving exporters the certainty they need to close deals in foreign markets.

The legislation will also fix the Bank’s quorum rules to make sure U.S. exporters do not miss out on opportunities abroad because of congressional inaction. Under current rules, the Bank cannot approve financing for deals over $10 million without a quorum on its Board of Directors.

A recent report by the Washington Council on International Trade found that the Export-Import Bank supported 25,200 jobs associated with Washington exports between 2014 and 2018. This was despite the significant drop in Ex-Im lending when the board operated without a quorum for more than 1,400 days between 2014 and 2018, leaving nearly $40 billion worth of export deals stuck in limbo. This situation only ended when Cantwell and her colleagues confirmed three nominees to the Ex-Im Board of Directors earlier this year.

Businesses in every part of Washington, in sectors ranging from aerospace to wine to metal fabrication, rely on the Export-Import Bank to close deals and strengthen business. Current export data shows Ex-Im supporting 131 exporters in Washington—100 of these small businesses—with a total export value of $31 billion. Ex-Im provides vital support for small businesses, which make up 90% of the companies assisted by the bank. The bank also produces a profit for the U.S. Treasury; through the interest it charges on loans, Ex-Im has earned American taxpayers approximately $5.2 billion over the past 10 years.

“The Export-Import Bank provides the vital financial backing that enables our Washington State businesses to compete on a level playing field with foreign competitors.  Given the importance of exports to our state’s businesses, workers and economy, we fully support efforts that help ensure EXIM runs at full capacity,” said Lori Otto Punke, President of the Washington Council on International Trade.

“The Export-Import Bank plays a vital role in the health of our nation’s economy, but it’s especially important here in Washington state, which is among the most trade-driven states in the country. Hundreds of Washington manufacturers, including many small- and medium-sized employers located in communities throughout the state, rely on the bank to bring their products to foreign markets. On behalf of Washington’s employer community, we thank the members of Washington’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Cantwell, for their hard work and leadership to give manufacturers and exporters the certainty they need,” said Kristofer Johnson, President of the Association of Washington Business. 

“U.S. Exim Bank has provided our winery L’Ecole No 41 with invaluable export credit insurance for now more than eight years.  As a small family business we would not be in a position to do any exports without this insurance program,” said Martin Clubb, Owner and Managing Winemaker of L’Ecole No 41 in the Walla Walla Valley.

“All of us at Manhasset are very pleased that Congress has passed the seven year extension of the Ex-Im Bank.  As a small manufacturer located in Yakima, WA, we have built our music stand export business very nicely over the last ten years.  The insurance program offered by the Ex-Im Bank (for approved customers) has been an excellent tool in helping to increase exports into many of the countries that Manhasset serves. We applaud the Congress for approaching the Ex-Im Bank with support from both parties, to do what is good for American business,” said Dan Roberts, President and General Manager at Manhasset Music Stands.

Cantwell has been a strong proponent of the Export-Import Bank, and a champion of the small businesses supported by its activities, throughout her time in Congress. Earlier this year, Cantwell cosponsored the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2019 (S. 2293) to reauthorize the bank for 10 years and fix the quorum issues on the Board of Directors. When Ex-Im lapsed in June 2015, she worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to reauthorize the bank for four years. And throughout the time Ex-Im was forced to operate without a quorum, she repeatedly urged President Trump and her Senate colleagues to return it to being fully operational.

Here is an interactive map of companies throughout Washington state that have used the Ex-Im Bank to send their products around the globe.