Democratic Members of the Financial Services Committee Speak on Export-Import Bank
Wednesday, July 30, 2014, Democratic members of the Financial Services Committee took to the floor of the House of Representatives to speak about the importance of the Export-Import Bank, the need to renew its charter, and the outpouring of support from businesses across the country for the continuation of the Bank.
The Export-Import Bank supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and levels the playing field so that American businesses large and small can compete successfully in global markets. Following Congress’ August recess, only 10 legislative days remain before the Bank’s charter expires on September 30.
· Rep. Maxine Waters (CA), Ranking Member, House Financial Services Committee
· Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH), Member, House Financial Services Committee
· Rep. Denny Heck (WA), Member, House Financial Services Committee
· Rep. Al Green (TX), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
A transcript and video of the Democratic Special Order on Export-Import Bank is below.
EXPORT-IMPORT BANK REAUTHORIZATION TRANSCRIPT
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 3, 2013, the Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Waters) for 30 minutes.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker, today we have Democrats on the Financial Services Committee here where we have gathered on the House floor to talk about the Export-Import Bank, which supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and levels the playing field so that American businesses, large and small, can compete successfully in the global markets.
Tomorrow, Speaker Boehner and the Republican leadership will leave town for a 5-week congressional recess, and legislation to renew the Export-Import Bank hasn't even seen a vote in our committee. When we return in September, there will be just 10 legislative days to renew the bank before its charter lapses on September 30.
This ideological push to abolish the Ex-Im Bank is an irrational crusade to destroy an agency that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and propels economic recovery without costing taxpayers a dime. The result could be the end of an institution that, over the past 5 years, has supported 1.2 million private sector American jobs, and over 200,000 jobs last year alone.
Additionally, the Ex-Im Bank reduced our deficit by returning over $1 billion to taxpayers last year alone through interest and fees.
Still, critics of the bank say it is a risk to taxpayers, that it picks winners and losers, and that it interferes in the free market and, therefore, creates a less efficient economy. For all of those reasons, it should be abolished, they say.
But first, let me say, this notion that there is such a thing as pure free enterprise, that, if left to its own devices, would flourish with total efficiency and self-discipline and allocate resources and spread risk in such a way that accrues to the benefit of everyone in society, this notion of pure, free enterprise simply doesn't exist.
In fact, I thought one of the lessons we learned from the recent financial crisis is that markets must be embedded in systems of governance. The idea that markets are self-correcting, many of us thought, had received a mortal blow.
Regardless of the outcome, Republicans have already created uncertainty for thousands of American companies trying to compete against businesses in China, Korea, and across Europe, all of which have their own version of the Ex-Im Bank.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to enter into the Record a letter from Mr. Steve Wilburn, who is the CEO of the green energy company FirmGreen, who lost $57 million in contracts because of uncertainty surrounding the future of the Ex-Im Bank.
At this time, and before us sharing this information with you, I would like to yield to the gentlewoman from Ohio (Mrs. Beatty).
Mrs. BEATTY. Mr. Speaker, thank you to Ranking Member Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the Export-Import Bank and current legislation, H.R. 4950, to reauthorize the bank introduced by my freshman colleague and fellow Financial Services Committee member, Congressman Heck from Washington.
The Export-Import Bank has been helping United States businesses of all sizes sell their products around the world for over 80 years. But despite the bank's proven track record of creating jobs, helping American businesses compete globally, and reducing the Federal deficit, a faction of House Republicans want to close the door of this important Federal agency forever.
Mr. Speaker, shutting down the Export-Import Bank makes no sense to me, and it makes no sense to my constituents. In my congressional district, Ohio's Third, 10 companies, including six small businesses, have grown because of the Export-Import Bank. These businesses have been able to expand sales internationally and create jobs locally because of the Export-Import Bank.
Earlier this month I received a letter from the CEO of Yenkin-Majestic Paint, a manufacturer in my district. In his letter, he writes: ``Normally we would not write in context of Washington crosscurrents about the bank. However, it would be very unfortunate if the Congress cannot reach a responsible bipartisan reauthorization of this work to encourage commerce for American-made products abroad and to help expand U.S. employment from sales beyond what is available on the home front.''
Mr. Speaker, this is just one of many letters I have received from affected constituents.
I have also heard from a young man who works at International Risk Consultants, a Columbus-based company that provides guidance to small businesses to export internationally. He writes: ``The Ex-Im Bank offers trade finance solutions that work for small businesses that cannot find alternatives in the private market.''
He closes his letter in this way, I think most telling: ``Perhaps the most devastating effect of not reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank will be visited upon the many firms that never began exporting but would, if they were introduced to Ex-Im Bank solutions.''
Mr. Speaker, Congress should not allow an extreme faction of the Republican Conference to execute an ill-conceived and destructive plan to close Export-Import Bank. My constituents deserve better. Ohioans deserve better, and the American people deserve better.
I urge the House Republican leadership to bring H.R. 4950, a bill with over 200 cosponsors, to the floor so we can keep the Export-Import Bank operating and, more importantly, keep Americans working.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and insert extraneous material in the Record on the topic of my Special Order.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from California?
There was no objection.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker and Members, I will read into the Record a letter from Steve Wilburn, CEO of the green energy company FirmGreen, who lost a $57 million contract because of uncertainty surrounding the future of the Ex-Im Bank. I will read you excerpts from his letter.
Mr. Wilburn attended the Ex-Im Bank panel I organized in April, and last month we invited him back to be one of our Democratic witnesses at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the Ex-Im Bank. He is among the best witnesses we have ever had at a hearing.
In his letter, Mr. Wilburn explains that “FirmGreen's export potential has been directly affected by the uncertainty of reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank U.S. and the aggressive financial terms offered by the Korean Ex-Im Bank.”
Attached to his letter is another letter from a company in the Philippines, Green Energy Solutions, informing him that his business lost a $57 million contract. The letter begins: ``Dear Mr. Wilburn, In view of the uncertainty of the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank, and project finance structure you proposed have become problematic. We have made the decision in May this year not to proceed with your project offering.''
Mr. Wilburn goes on to say: ``In summation, as a combat-decorated veteran, small business owner, job creator, exporter, and concerned citizen, I believe we should not unilaterally disarm and abandon the very governmental agency that allows U.S. manufacturers and other U.S. exporters to fairly compete on the world's trading stage.''
Mr. Speaker and Members, the main criticism of the Bank that I would like to discuss right now is the assertion that the bank is the embodiment of “corporate welfare,” benefiting a handful of large companies, which they claim represents “crony capitalism.”
Last April, I held a panel on the Ex-Im Bank which included a number of small business owners from across the country. They came here to Washington to discuss their work with the Bank and how the Bank helped their companies compete in the global marketplace. Every one of those panel members were extraordinarily decent people, hardworking business owners who create jobs and pay taxes and have families and a civic sense of duty. And this is why I am so offended by this label of ``crony capitalists'' that critics like to attach to users of the bank.
Those of us who know what it is like to live behind a label understand how they work. Once you are able to put a label on something, or to someone, and it sticks, then you could be done with them. And if enough people can be convinced that customers of the Ex-Im Bank are “crony capitalists,” well, there is nothing left to do but get rid of them.
It is so important to note that while a good amount of the bank's support goes to large companies, the vast majority of Ex-Im transactions--nearly 90 percent--help small businesses. In fact, if the Ex-Im Bank were abolished today, it would affect small- and medium-sized businesses just as much, or more, as large exporters--perhaps more, given the distinct challenges and risks small businesses face when looking to export.
Moreover, large U.S. exporters that benefit from high dollar volumes of Ex-Im financing also have large domestic supply chains which consists largely of small- and medium-sized businesses that benefit indirectly, but in very important ways, from Ex-Im support.
At a later time, I will be entering into the Record excerpts from Brek Manufacturing and Hansen Engineering.
This letter is from Mr. Greg Lay, vice president of Hansen Engineering. I will read this letter first from Hansen Engineering:
“Hansen Engineering company is one of many small businesses in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, California, that is dependent on Boeing contracts to support the business… Ninety percent of our contracts support Boeing aircraft, either directly or indirectly, through our prime aerospace companies throughout the world. My company staffs approximately 60 employees who live in the South Bay and surrounding areas and depend upon the support of Boeing for the well-being of their families.
“Without the reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank, it would have a big impact on the health of our businesses, its employees, and their families.”
Next we have a letter from Brek Manufacturing:
“Brek Manufacturing Company is a small business in California with 170 employees, who have a critical interest in foreign sales of Boeing commercial aircraft. The Export-Import Bank plays an important role as an intermediary in the sale of these aircraft. This letter is to express our support for the Ex-Im Bank, as it is key to securing additional sales of Boeing commercial aircraft.”
He goes on to say: “Our representatives who support the military should also be concerned with the Ex-Im Bank because of the role it plays in supporting jobs and companies like ours, both large and small, across the country.”
He further states, “We supply critical aircraft structural components which are key to successful, safe air transport and air defense. There are many others like us who represent thousands of high-skilled and well-paying positions with good benefits.
“Please express our support for the Ex-Im Bank to your colleagues. We are counting on them to do the right thing and support American manufacturing jobs.”
At this time, I would like to yield to the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Heck) who is a leader with the bill that would reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, if we could get the support from the opposite side of the aisle that we need.
Mr. HECK of Washington. I thank the ranking member of the committee very much.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to offer four elegant, simple, straightforward reasons why it is so critically important that the U.S. Congress reauthorize the Export-Import Bank prior to its expiration on October 1, and they are simply as follows: the Export-Import Bank creates jobs; it helps small businesses; it promotes fiscal responsibility; and it advances economic growth.
With respect to jobs, it has already been cited that in the last 5 years alone, the Export-Import Bank is responsible for the creation of over a million jobs, 205,000 jobs in just the last year.
But here is what has not been said: export-related jobs in America pay 13 to 18 percent more than non-export jobs. So it doesn't just create jobs; it creates good jobs. And it helps small businesses. Nearly 90 percent of all transactions of the Export-Import Bank are with small businesses. And to put a fine point on that, last year, it was 3,413 small businesses, businesses like Pexco in Fife, Washington, which makes traffic signs to promote safety during construction. Pexco recently sold $125,000--a small order by any measure--to the Netherlands, I think it was. Only one entity would guarantee payment because no one else could collect across international borders. And that entity, of course, was the Export-Import Bank.
STAC, another veteran-owned business in Sumner, Washington, with eight employees, they do exporting. They are going to hire three new employees on the basis of their international sales. But do you know what is incredibly frustrating for somebody who comes from the private sector? It is, frankly, the woeful deficiency in understanding, because the small business support that the Export-Import Bank provides does not stop with direct loans and loan guarantees to small businesses because big businesses buy goods and services from small businesses as well.
The greatest airplane maker in the world, Boeing airplanes, uses 15,000 businesses in their supply chain, and 6,600 of them are small businesses.
I was recently on an Alaska flight from Sea-Tac to National Airport in Washington, D.C., and a friend of mine named Eric Hahn, who works at General Plastics in south Takoma, was sitting a couple seats behind me. As everybody was gathering on the plane and shoving their luggage up above and getting seated, Eric jumped up, and he said, ``Denny, do you see this? Do you see this?'' And he was pointing at the plastic between the two overhead bins. He said, ``We made that. We made that.'' General Plastics has 185 employees, another small business.
The Export-Import Bank promotes fiscal responsibility. It has been more than a generation since there was any red penny supporting or subsidizing the Export-Import Bank, in the wake of reforms adopted during the Reagan years. Indeed, last October, more than $1 billion transferred to the U.S. Treasury. If we deauthorize the Export-Import Bank, our deficit is going up. Who wants that to happen? And finally, the Export-Import Bank promotes economic growth.
Let me give you a series of facts. We cannot change these facts by wishing them away. Fact number one: 95 percent of the consumers in the world live outside our borders--95 percent-plus, actually. Another fact: since 1980, global trade has increased something like fivefold--fivefold. And let me give you another fact: if we in America want to keep our middle class, we had better learn how to sell to the growing middle class throughout the world. And the Export-Import Bank is an outstanding tool to do that.
You know, America's economy is projected to grow by only about 2.4 percent a year over the next 10 years. And do you know what the shame of that is? The shame of that is, it is not fast enough to absorb even the kids coming out of high schools and postsecondary education and colleges. We simply have to grow this economy faster. And there is no better way than to participate in the exploding global economy.
Every developed nation on the face of the planet has an export credit authority. And, in fact, about 60 in all, theirs are larger than ours either in absolute dollars or in terms of a percentage of their gross domestic product. Why? Why would we unilaterally disarm? Why would we unilaterally disarm?
Finally, let me say this. Right now, tonight, as we sit, as we speak, the people of China are pouring billions of dollars into the development of a commercial aircraft. They call it the C-919. They say it will be available for sale within 2 years. Frankly, I think it is going to be longer than that. It will be 3 or 4 or 5 years. But whenever it is, they are going to create even more fierce competition for an industry that is a bulwark of America's manufacturing base, a bulwark. And what about China's export credit authority? It is six times larger in absolute dollars than America's. And as a percentage of GDP, it is 35 times larger.
So I ask the Members of the House, let us not wake up 63 days from now with no export credit authority. This is the 16th time, by my count, we have reauthorized the bank. Almost every time by virtually unanimous support. And there are more than 300 votes on this floor to pass it, if they will bring it to a vote.
In the name of jobs, in the name of small businesses, in the name of fiscal responsibility, and in the name of economic growth, let us reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Al Green), and I thank him for the leadership and the support that he has shown for the Export-Import Bank.
Mr. AL GREEN of Texas. I thank you, Madam Ranking Member of the full committee. I am exceedingly proud to be a part of this effort. And I want to you know that when we succeed, it will be due in no small part to the energy that you have provided to help us get this legislation through.
I would also like to thank the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Heck) for H.R. 4950, an outstanding piece of legislation. It extends the Export-Import Bank for 7 years, and it will increase the cap to $175 billion. I think it is an outstanding piece of legislation. And, of course, I am one of the persons who is supporting it.
Mr. Speaker, let me start by indicating that the Export-Import Bank is not one of the too big to fail institutions. It wasn't involved in the credit default swaps. It wasn't involved with derivatives. It wasn't involved with no-doc loans. It wasn't involved in all of these exotic products that nearly caused the collapse of the economy.
If the truth be told, the Export-Import Bank was one of the reasons why the economy was able to survive. It has been thriving. It has done well. It pays for itself by virtue of the loans that it makes, by virtue of the fees that it collects, by virtue of the products that it insures. The Export-Import Bank makes good sense.
I find no businesspeople in my community who are in opposition to the Export-Import Bank. It is not too big to fail, and it should not be too small to save. We ought to do what we have done 16 times in the previous 80 years, and that is, reauthorize the Export-Import Bank in a clean bill, and do it with very little fanfare.
Unfortunately, that is not the circumstance that we confront presently. Unfortunately, there are persons who believe that the Export-Import Bank no longer serves a useful purpose.
Well, it serves a useful purpose for the people in my district. And the facts speak for themselves. In my district, between 2007 and 2013, in the Ninth Congressional District, we had a total of 88 export-importers.
We had 39 small businesses, 13 minority-owned businesses, and four women-owned businesses, and we are proud of these businesses that are owned by women because we still contend that when women succeed, America succeeds. The Export-Import Bank is on the agenda to help women succeed.
I would add that there are businesses that have indicated that they are supportive. I have a letter from a company in Houston, the title of it is the South Coast Products Company, and I just shall read an excerpt from their letter. I have many letters to read, but I shall pick a few and just read excerpts.
This one reads--and it is addressed to the Honorable Maxine Waters:
“We are a small manufacturer in Texas that exports thread and valve lubricants primarily to the oil and gas industry. We have used Export-Import Banks' export credit insurance for 13 years. During that time, our export business has grown by a factor of 15 because of the security offered by our policy with Export-Import.”
I shall go to the last paragraph which reads, ``Please emphasize to your colleagues that Ex-Im Bank is not corporate welfare'' -- this is a business, a business that has written this to us – “or a charity of any kind. It facilitates U.S. exports, especially for small businesses like us, while supporting itself. Please do not let them put our livelihoods on the chopping block for their own political gain.''
This is from South Coast Products, a Texas business.
I would also like to read a letter from the Greater Houston Partnership. The Greater Houston Partnership is the preeminent chamber of commerce in my area. It is called the partnership because we do things differently in Texas, and the partnership has also joined in this letter by a good many other entities that I shall name after having read an excerpt from this letter.
“The Houston region continues to enjoy strong economic growth driven in large part by the Export-Import Bank. In order to keep momentum, it is crucial that Congress supports tools encouraging businesses to expand into new markets and create new jobs. The Export-Import Bank of the United States is one of these tools, and we ask that you support this legislation.”
The letter is addressed to me.
It goes on to add:
“Small- and medium-sized businesses in our region also benefit directly from Export-Import. Small businesses account for nearly 85 percent of Ex-Im Bank's transactions; further, these transaction figures do not include the tens of thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses that supply goods and services to large exporters using the bank.”
This is signed by the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, the Baytown Chamber of Commerce, the Brenham/Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce, the Houston East End Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce, Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, League City Chamber of Commerce, Pearland Chamber of Commerce, West Chambers County Chamber of Commerce, and the Wharton Chamber of Commerce.
I close simply with these words: businesses are supportive of the Ex-Im Bank. People understand the necessity for it. We but only need to have a vote on it to get it continued.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker, Members, you have heard about businesses in any number of districts that receive the support from the Ex-Im Bank.
I would like to read to you excerpts from a letter from Chairman Hensarling's district. This is from Fritz-Pak, and this letter is about how the Ex-Im Bank helped save his business.
His name is Gabriel Ojeda, president of Fritz-Pak Corporation, and this is the excerpt I would like to read:
“During the past 5 years, we have grown our international sales from 15 percent to over 35 percent of our business. We now have major trading partners in over 30 different countries, including Brazil, Russia, India, and Taiwan. Most recently, we exhibited our products at Bauma International Trade Fair in Munich, Germany.”
“So what is Fritz-Pak Corporation today? We are an American manufacturer of the best concrete admixtures in the world, and we sell them as far as Yellowknife, Canada, and as far south as Wellington, New Zealand. We may be small, but we think big. In an age where everything seems to be made someplace else, we are thriving here in the USA and in no small part due to the services provided by Ex-Im Bank.”
Lastly, I would like to read excerpts from Mr. Mike Boyle of BES&T in New Hampshire. The CEO and president of BES&T is Mr. Michael Boyle, and he sent us a very good letter last week.
Mr. Speaker, at a later time, we will enter into the Record these letters that we are not able to read this evening. I thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.