Chairman D'Amato, Senator Sarbanes, Members of the Banking Committee:
I am pleased to testify today on my nomination by President Clinton to be Chairman of the ExportImport Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank). I have had an opportunity to meet with some of you over the past two weeks, and I know there is a wealth of experience within the Banking Committee from which I hope to gain insight.
Professionally, I have devoted my career to investment banking, where, among other things, I have had occasion to raise capital for many small and medium sized businesses that needed to expand. This expansion created job opportunities, and I have seen the impact that this has had on local communities.
So, it is in this light that when the President approached me with an offer to be his nominee for Chairman of Ex-Im Bank, I accepted without hesitation. In a way, it is a continuation of the personal and professional work that I have been engaged in for my entire career.
For me, if confirmed, this will be my first foray into government service on a national level, though I have spent many years engaged in government on a local level in New York and Connecticut.
I now sit here with another opportunity - through public service - to give back something to the country that has given me and my family so much. Many of you here today have seen the political leadership come and go at Ex-Im Bank. The constants have been the exporters that rely on the Bank for their businesses to thrive and the dedicated professional staff at the Bank that come to work every day and keep the pieces together. Over the next four years, I will dedicate myself to adding value to this institution -- working closely with this Committee and its staff to keep them informed of my plans and efforts. I hope to bring my financial experience and management skills to Ex-Im Bank and help it reach the next step in its history.
Ex-Im Bank, as you know, is a modest sized federal agency with a not so modest mission -- to promote the creation and sustaining of quality American jobs through the financing of exports, which impacts thousands of individuals in communities around the country. Although I have been here in Washington only for a few weeks, I have already been impressed with the quality and dedication of the people at the Bank and the successes they have accomplished.
Ex-ImBank has had, in recent years, a real success story to tell on servicing the needs of small businesses. Ten years ago, there was little activity with small businesses. Congress mandated that ten percent of the Bank's program budget be allocated to small business transactions. In the last fiscal year the Bank more than doubled that amount and actually had 81 percent of its transactions with small businesses. My own experience in helping small and medium sized companies has left me with the deep impression that such businesses are the backbone of the American economy and will be for years to come.
The Bank also can be very proud of its Delegated Lending Authority Program which has empowered 120 banks and 33 City/State partners across the country to make smaller Working Capital Guarantees on behalf of Ex-Irn Bank by strictly following the Bank's pre-set criteria.
In addition, the Bank has developed a Project Finance program that looks to the cash flows of the project itself for repayment. This has opened a whole new area for American businesses to compete on major international infrastructure projects, generating significant export opportunities and more jobs.
I believe that Ex-ImBank does make a difference. The Bank impacts tens of thousands of people by effectively employing its appropriated funds to help American workers and companies sell their products into markets where, without this assistance, the sale would go to a foreign competitor. The bottom line is morehigh qualityjobsfor more Americans,whowill in turn pay more taxes and make other significant contributions to their communities. Ex-Im Bank does not compete with commercial banks, nor will it. If the private sector can handle a transaction, the Bank should not be involved.
Export financing is needed in a number of the world's fastest growing economies where there is fierce competition facing American workers from foreign subsidized companies. Ex-Im Bank will continue, with the cooperation of other agencies like Treasury and State, to try and level the playing field for American workers. If confirmed, I look forward to playing an important role through the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee to ensure that U. S. Exporters receive the most effective and coordinated delivery of export promotion services available.
Predecessors who came before this Committee to be confirmed as Chairmen began a process of transforming Ex-Im Bank to meet the challenges that will confront U. S. Exporters in the 21st century. Just a few weeks ago, I sat among the 1500 exporters, bankers and others interested in Ex-Irn Bank at the Bank's highly successful Annual Conference. It was clear to me that the Bank has, through good customer service and marketing, generated significant interest throughout the exporting community for its products. But it also is clear to me that there is a need for a new era of stability which will allow the Bank to focus on its mission. If confirmed, I hope to foster an environment where all parties can be secure in the knowledge that Ex-Im Bank will be here working for the American worker to bring and keep high paying jobs where they belong -- in the U.S.A.
I am not a politician, by any means, but I understand the political imperatives of today. Government must be smaller, more responsive to the needs of the people, and must perforrn a task that only the government can perform. Ex-Im Bank must also maintain its independence in the administration of its strict credit guidelines. Within this context, it is my opinion that Ex-Im Bank fills an important mission and that the country would be worse off without this institution. But I know that many of you on this Committee are strong supporters of the Bank and I hope to be speaking at a later date, if confirmed, on the issue of the reauthorization of the Bank.
I wish to add that I am aware that, recently, relations between the Bank and the Congress have not been as smooth as any of us would have liked. I am not here today to point fingers or lay any blame. Instead, I want to assure you that, if you deem me worthy of this position, there will begin a new era of close consultation and cooperation between this Committee and your colleagues in Congress with myself and Ex-Im Bank. I hope to bring my management experience in the private sector to the Bank and to foster an environment of stability for the employees of the Bank. The job we have to do is too important to allow ourselves to get sidetracked. Too many American workers are counting on us to help them fairly compete in the global economy.
I would be pleased to answer your questions.
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