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JOHNSON TAKES TO FLOOR IN SUPPORT OF EXPORT-IMPORT BANK REAUTHORIZATION

March 19, 2012

Calls for increased investor protections in House JOBS bill

WASHINGTON – In advance of a key vote tomorrow, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to support passage of an amendment reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The legislation, sponsored by Johnson as well as Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Richard Shelby (R-AL), passed out of the Senate Banking Committee with unanimous bipartisan support. In 2011, the Ex-Im Bank supported an estimated 288,000 American jobs at more than 3,600 U.S. companies, and facilitated $41 billion in exports. However, unless Congress acts in the coming weeks, the Bank will see its charter lapse on May 31.

Chairman Johnson also spoke about the importance of providing strong investor protections in the underlying House capital formation bill under consideration by the Senate.

Below is Chairman Johnson’s statement as prepared for delivery:

"Mr. President: I rise today to speak about an amendment I am cosponsoring with Senator Cantwell, as well as Senator Graham and Senator Shelby, to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. This amendment is important to thousands of workers in Senator Cantwell’s home state of Washington, and I want to thank her for offering it with me.

"But this amendment is not just important to the state of Washington – it is important to our national economy. It will create and support more jobs than any other provision in the underlying bill before us today.
"I believe this is why there was unanimous bipartisan support last year when Senator Shelby and I passed this bill out of the Banking Committee. And that is why we should pass it this week.

"This legislation will ensure that the Bank is able to continue to provide support for U.S. exporters and workers. The amendment extends the authorization of the Bank for 4 years, and will increase the Bank’s lending authority to $140 billion by 2015. It also strengthens transparency and accountability at the Bank, strengthens restrictions against companies doing business with Iran, and provides for greater oversight of the Bank’s financing and any risks it might have to taxpayers.

"The Export-Import Bank is the official export credit agency of the U.S., and it assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets. Following the financial crisis, the Bank experienced a dramatic increase in its activities as many companies struggled to find financing in the private market. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Bank saw a 70 percent increase in authorizations from 2008. And last year the Bank committed almost $33 billion in support of U.S. exports—a new record.

"The Bank has been self-funding since 2008, returning nearly $2 billion to the Treasury. In Fiscal Year 2011 alone, the Bank generated $400 million to offset federal spending and bring down the budget deficit. It’s not often that we discuss government programs that reduce the deficit, so let me repeat that: The Export-Import Bank returned $400 million to American taxpayers last year.

"We cannot take future success for granted, however. So I am pleased that this legislation will implement reforms to help ensure that the Bank is working as efficiently and effectively as possible to protect the taxpayers.

"And we must not forget that American companies are competing in a truly global marketplace. The Export-Import Bank plays a vital role in ensuring that the global marketplace is also a fair one. When other countries are helping their own companies with export financing, we cannot afford to “unilaterally disarm” in the face of this global competition.

"Let me be clear: this is a jobs bill. The Export-Import Bank’s Charter directs it to use exports to create and maintain jobs here at home. And last year, the Export-Import Bank supported almost 290,000 American jobs. These are jobs in cities and towns across the nation, at large companies as well as small businesses. In fact, last year the Export-Import Bank financed more than $6 billion in exports by small businesses, the engines of economic growth. In my home state of South Dakota, Ex-Im has worked with small and large businesses to help export goods all over the world. In the last five years alone it has helped support over $20 million worth of export sales. This support has been critical to many companies in my state as they seek to expand their customer base. More importantly, Ex-Im financing has helped support good-paying American jobs in South Dakota—something that we need to make sure there are more of.
I believe that while the Bank is doing a good job, it can—and must—do more. I believe this legislation will help the Bank reach that goal.

"This measure was a bipartisan effort in the Senate Banking Committee and I thank Senator Shelby for his support. In addition, I thank Senator Warner, Senator Bennet and Senator Hagan for their important input into this legislation. The Bank’s current authorization expires on May 30, 2012, in just two months, so it is important that we pass this jobs amendment today. I hope my colleagues will support the Cantwell-Johnson-Graham-Shelby amendment to ensure that the Bank continues to carry out its mission of supporting American exports and American jobs.

"Mr. President: I also would like to briefly address a filed amendment that Majority Leader Reid and Senator Udall have spoken on—the credit union member business lending amendment. As Chairman of the Banking Committee, I held a hearing on this issue last June, and as my staff and I have told the Leader and his staff since then, this is a very controversial matter. From the testimony of the credit union and banking industry witnesses at that hearing and the ongoing conversations over the past months, it is clear there is no consensus. If the Senate chooses to move forward on this issue, I urge the Senate to move forward carefully.

"Mr. President: Finally, with respect to the underlying House bill, I would like to make a few comments. This is not the bill I would have drafted. Over the last several months, I have worked to enhance the investor protections contained in the capital formation proposals passed by the House in a thoughtful manner while helping to support entrepreneurs, grow small businesses, and put Americans back to work. I will enter a separate statement into the record laying out my views in more detail, but I am pleased to have assisted my colleagues in crafting the Senate substitute amendment that addresses investor protection concerns. I urge my colleagues to support the Senate substitute.

"If this body chooses to reject the enhanced investor protections in the Senate substitute, we must remember that all Members of Congress have a duty to keep an eye on the effects of these changes. We are plowing new ground here, and we have a shared responsibility to ensure that going forward, the new changes we enact into law will truly benefit, and not undermine, both start-ups and investors alike.
Mr. President, I yield the floor."

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