WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Jack Reed today celebrated the bipartisan reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im), calling the Bank an important tool to help American companies compete in a global economy and sell more of their products overseas.  The federal agency provides about $20 billion annually in loans and other export financing for American companies, including several in Rhode island, but was forced to cease operations earlier this year when some Republican lawmakers prevented Congress from acting to renew the bank’s charter.  However, Senator Reed and a vast majority of Congress voted to renew Ex-Im’s charter as part of a $305 billion surface transportation authorization bill that passed Congress last week.

“The Ex-Im Bank supports American exports abroad and jobs here at home.  Ex-Im operates like a business and when Congress shuts it down like this, even temporarily, it can have a negative impact on American workers and our economy,” said Senator Reed.  “With so many other nations heavily subsidizing their exports, we cannot afford to unilaterally surrender the international marketplace to China and others.  Reviving the Ex-Im Bank means keeping jobs and investment here at home and I want to ensure every business in Rhode Island that exports goods has access to tools like Ex-Im that can help them grow.”

Founded in 1934, the Ex-Im Bank is an independent, self-sustaining agency with an 80+ year record of supporting U.S. jobs by financing the export of American goods and services to foreign buyers.  It helps U.S. companies go toe-to-toe with foreign rivals through a variety of loan, guarantee, and credit insurance programs that help them compete in the global marketplace while keeping more jobs and manufacturing facilities here in the U.S.  Since 2009, the Ex-Im Bank has supported 1.3 million private-sector, American jobs, including 164,000 jobs in the last fiscal year alone, and nearly 90 percent of the agency’s transactions directly support American small businesses.

The Ex-Im Bank has directly supported over $76.3 million in export sales from Rhode Island over the last five years.

The reauthorization approved last week comes with some modifications to the Bank’s operations, including a reduction in the value of individual loans it can issue, increased small business lending requirements, a mandate to hire a chief risk officer, and an annual audit by the Government Accountability Office to monitor for fraud.

The Ex-Im Bank operates at no cost to taxpayers.  In fact, due to fees and interest, the Bank generated $675 million in returns for taxpayers last year.  Default rates on Ex-Im loans were limited to just 0.175 percent, and over the last two decades, the Bank has contributed $6.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury to support deficit reduction.

Now that ?Congress has renewed Ex-Im’s charter for the next four years, the Senate must confirm a board nominee so that the agency may fully operate and provide credit financing.  President Obama nominated Patricia M. Loui to a second term on the board in March, but the Senate Banking Committee has yet to hold a confirmation hearing for her.  She was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 2011 and her term expired earlier this year.

Senator Reed, a member of the Banking Committee, stated: “I hope the Banking Committee will act on a bipartisan basis to hold a fair hearing and an up or down vote on someone who has received unanimous support from the full Senate in the past.  We can’t let partisanship prevent American businesses from working and competing.”