VIDEO: Cantwell Urges Swift Senate Passage of Export-Import Bank Reauthorization

Cantwell: ‘The Ex-Im Bank has been a proven job creator in the United States helping U.S. companies compete internationally’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urged her colleagues to swiftly pass legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank – action Cantwell has been advocating for months to prevent businesses across the nation from losing this critical export support at the end of May when the bank’s charter expires. The Securing American Jobs Through Exports Act of 2011 (HR 2072) passed the House by a 330 to 93 vote Wednesday and is currently pending consideration by the full Senate.

In early April, Cantwell visited small and medium-sized businesses across Washington state that are creating jobs and growing their exports with support from the Export-Import Bank. The Export-Import Bank supports 83,000 jobs in Washington state, including supporting $66 billion in sales from 172 Washington state exporters over the last five years. Of these 172 exporters, 121 were small businesses.

“There is one thing that we know right now: We need to do everything we can to help our economy and to help jobs,” Cantwell said on the Senate floor today. “The Ex-Im Bank has been a proven job creator in the United States helping U.S. companies compete internationally. It has helped us pay down the deficit in the past and now all we need to do is give it the certainty that it will continue to operate as of May 31st this year. Extending the Export-Import bank is critical for American manufacturing competitiveness and jobs.”

Watch a video of Senator Cantwell’s floor speech.

Cantwell has been a Congressional leader in pushing the bank’s reauthorization. In early April, Cantwell joined local businesses in Spokane, Yakima, Moses Lake, and Everett to call for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank – a crucial job-creating tool for small and medium-sized exporting businesses across the state.

In March, Cantwell introduced a bipartisan amendment to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for four years. Cantwell’s amendment would extend the Export-Import Bank until 2015 and increase its lending authority from $100 billion to $140 billion. The bill passed in the House Wednesday extends the bank’s charter until 2014, with incremental increases in lending authority with the potential of up to $140 billion if the bank’s default rate is less than two percent and it meets certain reporting requirements. Historically, the bank’s default rate has been around 1.5 percent.

In February, Cantwell joined Senate Small Business Committee members in urging Senate leadership to move forward as soon as possible on reauthorizing the bank before its temporary extension expires at the end of May.

If private banks are unwilling, the Export-Import Bank steps in and finances or insures the purchase of U.S. goods by foreign customers. The bank’s activities create jobs, don’t cost U.S. taxpayers a dime and will reduce the deficit by $900 million over the next five years.

Senator Cantwell’s full remarks as delivered from the Senate floor:

Thank you Mr. President. I rise today to speak on that motion to proceed to the passage of the Export-Import Bank.

Legislation that has come over from the House and passed the House with a vote of 330 to 93 so a pretty resounding vote in favor of moving forward on the Ex-Im Bank. The Export-Import Bank that is a major tool to financing manufacturing in the United States when they have products to be sold around the globe.

We hear the President talk all the time about the fact that we need to increase our exports. Well this is a very important tool that has existed for decades in helping businesses across our country produce product and get sales into overseas markets.

So the fact that this legislation passed the House, again with an overwhelming positive vote. And I should point out to my colleagues here in the Senate without amendment. It was not amended on the floor. That is that my colleagues on the House side both Republicans and Democrats worked out such a positive proposal that it went to the House floor without amendment.

So now we have the chance to bring it up here and pass this legislation and I would just urge my colleagues to do so very quickly because this legislation and this authorization for the Export-Import Bank is expiring at the end of this month.

So yes, here we are again at the eleventh hour. Instead of giving predictability and certainty to a very important program we’re down to the last minutes about whether it’s going to continue to operate in the normal ways that it does.

So I’m here to ask my colleagues to, on the Republican side of the aisle, to move forward and do like your House colleagues did. Agree to the legislation and let’s get it out of here so that people know across America that this program will continue.

Mr. President, I toured Washington state who has many many companies that benefit from the Export-Import Bank. One of them was a company in Spokane Washington, SCAFCO, which happens to be one of the largest makers of grain silos in the world.

And they export these grain silos. They are used in the United States, but they are used all over the world. And I saw 200 workers there that know first-hand how important it is to get this legislation adopted and moved forward because it means sales of those grain silos all around the world.

And they have used this financing mechanism to expand overseas sales to 11 new countries and to make sure that they were continuing to compete on an international basis. If you look at over the last 5 years this bank has supported over sixty-four billion dollars of sales in exports in Washington state.

And so yes some of those jobs are related to aviation but 83,000 related jobs in Washington state are small businesses. Companies like Sonico in Moses Lake, which is a machine shop and they do repair parts for aircraft for 40 different clients spread across the globe.

We were at another company in Yakima, a music company which if anybody has heard of Manhasset music stands it’s an unbelievable story of the success of a company that has sales of over a million dollars to various countries around the globe. And people who definitely like the fact that made in America means quality and that they have been able to access all of these markets.

And we saw in a company in the Everett area, Esterline, which has built airplane parts and employs over 600 people, have used this agreement. Basically they build the overhead cockpit part of airplanes and they sell those to a variety of businesses all around the globe.

And so without the financing of the Ex-Im Bank these companies lose out on an international basis to the financing mechanisms that other countries have. Whether that’s Canada, Europe, other places. So this program is very very successful.

And I might add adds billions of dollars back to the US government. This is not a program that costs us money;this is a program that basically generates revenue back to the federal government.

So I just want to say to my colleagues there were several things that were added in the House bill – a GAO report on evaluating the bank and capital market conditions, making sure that they do an annual report on due diligence and the purpose of the loan, additional requirement by Treasury, making sure that we continue to oversee the Ex-Im Bank – so lots of language in making sure that there is transparency in the Ex-Im Bank financing mechanism.

So I think that this is a good resolution. I applaud my colleagues in the House, Representative Hoyer and Cantor and Boehner who all worked on this agreement and I hope that my colleagues will move quickly on it.

There is one thing that we know right now: We need to do everything we can to help our economy and to help jobs. Well the Ex-Im Bank has been a proven job creator in the United States helping U.S. companies compete internationally. It has helped us pay down the deficit in the past and now all we need to do is give it the certainty that it will continue to operate as of May 31st this year.

So let’s get on with this business of making sure that we’re focusing on the economy and make sure the Ex-Im Bank, we proceed to this measure and pass this as soon as possible.

I thank the President and I yield the floor.