April 18, 2018

Brown Floor Speech on the Export-Import Bank of the United States

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – delivered the following speech on the Export-Impor Bank of the United States an requesting a that the quorum call be dispended on the Bank's nominees, so the nominees can be confirmed and EXIM Bank is restored to full functionality.  

Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow.

Mr. /Mdme. President, I ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. 

Mr./Mdme. President,

Right now, American manufacturers and American workers aren’t competing on a level playfield with our foreign competitors. 

The ExIm Bank is a vital tool for Ohio manufacturers and other businesses, helping them export Ohio products around the world and compete in the global marketplace.

But for nearly three years, the Export-Import Bank has been forced to stop most of its work.

During that time, 95 other export credit agencies around the globe, including China’s massive export credit agencies, have been aggressively helping foreign competitors win sales and the jobs that come with them – jobs that could be in the United States if we had a functioning ExIm.

China provides more credit every two years than Ex-Im has over its entire 80-year history. If Congress is serious about ensuring American businesses stay competitive with Chinese manufacturers, we have to have a functional export credit agency. 

But this Congress has done the opposite. It has starved the bank of the nominees it needs to function and crippled its ability to support American jobs.

Right now, the ExIm Bank can’t finance any transaction worth more than $10 million dollars unless its Board has quorum. The Bank’s opponents here in the Senate have spent years blocking votes on board nominees in a drawn out attempt to kill the Bank. 

Every additional day of delay means lost contracts and lost jobs, and additional costs to taxpayers.

Without new transactions, the Bank will not be able to self-finance its operations. But if the bank is fully reopened, it expects to return more than $600 million to the Treasury next fiscal year.

Tomorrow, the ExIm Bank will begin its annual conference. Senior officials from the Administration, including Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and

White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro, will be in attendance. 

This meeting is normally an opportunity for American exporters to learn about how ExIm can help them grow their businesses.  

Instead the Bank will again have to warn American companies that it’s prohibited from doing much of its work. The Bank hobbled. And there won’t be a single member of the board of directors to represent the Bank at its own conference. 

To businesses in Ohio and across the nation, this makes no sense.

Billions of dollars worth of American goods are not being manufactured and sold because the Bank is crippled. Ameircan companies are sitting on the sidelines, not expanding or hiring new workers, because they can’t get the financing they need to expand their export business.  

Ohio is the home to GE Aviation, which designs and builds the most advanced commercial aircraft engines in the world. And their footprint stretches well beyond Ohio, with 40 factories across the country.   

All told, GE Aviation employs more than 24,600 workers in Alabama, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Mississippi and other states. And that doesn’t even include the thousands of workers employed by its supplier partners.

They all risk losing business because their  foreign competitors have a tool they don’t.. GE can offer the best workforce and the best technology, but without the ExIm Bank, they can’t match the financing that a foreign airline gets from the United Kingdom when they buy Rolls Royce engines.

And GE is far from alone. Many Ohio manufacturers are being hurt. In the past, Ohio companies exported more than $400 million a year in products using ExIm credit assistance, but last year that amount was nearly cut in half.  

The story is the same across the country.

When the ExIm Bank was fully operational in FY 2014, it provided $20 billion in financing to American companies, which supported nearly 165,000 good-paying jobs. 

But this past fiscal year, that amount was cut by more than two thirds. The Bank supported just 40,000 jobs. 

Think of all the opportunities our manufacturers are losing.

That’s why the need for reopening the Bank is overwhelming. The National Association of Manufacturers, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Aerospace Industries Association have all called repeatedly for ExIm’s opponents to let common sense prevail, and reopen the Bank.

State manufacturing organizations, like the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, and small businesses from across the country have also repeatedly demanded that Congress resolve this mess.

Last year, President Trump said that he wanted the Bank to get back to work, but the Administration wasted six months on Scott Garrett - a nominee determined to kill the bank.     

In the Banking Committee, we voted down the Garrett nomination on a bipartisan vote in December.  

Even as precious time was being wasted on the Garrett nomination, President Trump did provide four highly-qualified nominees to fill the remaining positions on the ExIm board. 

Those nominees include former Congressman Spencer Bachus of Alabama, and they received overwhelming bipartisan support when our Committee voted on their nominations. 

That means we have two Republican and two Democratic board nominees on the Executive Calendar, all of whom could begin work immediately if confirmed. Our Committee also reported a well-qualified nominee to become the Bank’s Inspector General to oversee a reopened Bank.   

President Trump says he wants a fully functioning bank. American manufacturers say they need a fully functioning bank to create jobs. 

Let’s deliver for American businesses and American workers. Let’s reopen the Bank and let’s make sure the Bank supports another 125,000 jobs each year.

We cannot wait any longer. The Senate has waited four months to confirm these nominees already.  

There are more than $44 billion of transactions at the Bank that need board approval. About half of those deals could move forward in the next six to eight months if we act today. 

If we fail to approve these nominations, these deals will wither and fall apart. All those opportunities for job creation and growing American businesses could be lost.

Let’s move past this impasse.