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Democrats Slam Hensarling Plan to Undermine Bipartisan Export-Import Bank Amendment

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Washington, DC, September 5, 2017 | comments

Following Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling's request to eliminate a bipartisan amendment to temporarily modify the Export-Import Bank’s quorum requirement, which would allow the Bank to consider transactions of all sizes and clear its significant backlog, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Democratic Whip, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade, and Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA), Financial Services Committee Member, wrote to Congressman Pete Sessions, Chairman of the Committee on Rules, asking him to reject Chairman Hensarling's request. The amendment was offered by Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA) and was adopted by the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee by a voice vote. The amendment was subsequently adopted by the full Appropriations Committee by a voice vote.

“If Chairman Hensarling succeeds in stripping this important provision from the bill, and the Export-Import Bank is forced to operate at a diminished capacity, there will be many losers: America’s domestic manufacturing base, U.S. workers, thousands of small businesses, and the U.S. Treasury,” said the lawmakers. “The House’s record of support for a functioning Export-Import Bank is clear, and we ask that you not give license to those who seek to destroy the Export-Import Bank.”

The Export-Import Bank requires a quorum in order to approve transactions of larger than $10 million. However, the Board currently lacks a quorum as three board positions are unfilled. This means that, despite a bipartisan reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank in 2015, the Bank remains functionally stalled, a situation Congressman Dent’s amendment would have rectified. The Members also noted the Export-Import Bank will likely be without a quorum for the foreseeable future, given that the President’s controversial nominee to lead the Bank does not have the necessary support to be confirmed. Despite the fact that the Bank enjoys bipartisan support from Members of both Houses, obstruction from a vocal minority in Congress has prevented the Bank from having the quorum necessary to operate at full capacity for more than two years.

The full text of the letter is below:

The Honorable Pete Sessions
Chairman, Committee on Rules
H-312, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Sessions:

On August 17, 2017 you received correspondence from Chairman Hensarling asking you to expose a provision related to the statutory quorum requirement of the Export-Import Bank. We respectfully ask that you stand with American workers and take no such action on this matter.

Chairman Hensarling’s claim that the Export-Import Bank is controversial is unfounded. The fact is an overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans voted in support of reauthorizing the Bank. Moreover, this provision, which temporarily modifies the quorum requirement to allow the Bank to support transactions of all sizes, also enjoys wide-spread support. This language was adopted by the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations by a voice vote. Further, the appropriations bill, as amended, was subsequently adopted by the full Committee on a voice vote. This record hardly suggests that the operations of the Export-Import, and the need for its full functionality, is somehow controversial.

Here are the facts: over the course of the last eight years, the Export-Import Bank financed more than $240 billion in U.S. exports; supported more than 1.4 million American jobs; and remitted more than $3.8 billion in deficit-reducing receipts to the U.S. Treasury. President Trump’s own FY 2018 budget estimated that a fully functional Export-Import Bank would generate $587.7 million in excess funds on behalf of U.S. taxpayers. However, these profits can only be generated if the Bank is able to approve its backlog of large transactions, which require board approval. This fact directly contradicts Chairman Hensarling’s claim that striking the quorum provision would have “no budgetary effect.”

To further demonstrate the importance of this provision, one only has to look to the nomination of Scott Garrett, who actually is highly controversial. Mr. Garrett, an avowed opponent of the Bank does not have the support necessary to be confirmed, and his stalled nomination could hold up indefinitely the process of filling open Board slots. Before losing his seat in Congress following the outrage over his homophobic views, Mr. Garrett frequently mischaracterized the role of the Bank and helped lead the opposition to its reauthorization. The strong bipartisan opposition in the Senate to Garrett’s nomination means that the Export-Import Bank will likely be without a quorum for the foreseeable future, underscoring the importance of protecting the bipartisan committee-passed Appropriations language. If Chairman Hensarling succeeds in stripping this important provision from the bill, and the Export-Import Bank is forced to operate at a diminished capacity, there will be many losers: America’s domestic manufacturing base, U.S. workers, thousands of small businesses, and the U.S. Treasury.

Speaker Ryan has repeatedly emphasized the importance of letting the House work its will, and we couldn’t agree more. The House’s record of support for a functioning Export-Import Bank is clear, and we ask that you not give license to those who seek to destroy the Export-Import Bank. For these reasons, we urge you to take no action on Chairman Hensarling’s exposure request.


Sincerely,

Maxine Waters
Ranking Member, Financial Services Committee

Steny H. Hoyer
House Democratic Whip

Gwen Moore
Ranking Member, Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee

Denny Heck
Member of Congress



cc: The Honorable Paul D. Ryan, Speaker of the House


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