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Senate Rejects Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization

In a 55-45 vote, the Senate rejected a measure this week that would've reauthorized the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) and expanded the agency's borrowing limit.

The reauthorization was submitted as an amendment to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS, Act of 2012, which passed the House earlier this month in a 390-23 vote. As proposed by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), the amendment would've extended Ex-Im's charter until 2015, increased the bank's lending capacity from $100 billion to $140 billion and improved transparency by requiring Ex-Im to provide more notice and details to Congress, the public and customers. It required 60 votes to advance.

Prior to the vote on the amendment, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urged his Republican colleagues to vote against the measure on the grounds that the increase in the bank's borrowing limit is an example of unchecked federal spending, and that the amendment would only hold up the passage of the JOBS Act.

Ex-Im's charter expires in 72 days, and it's expected to reach its borrowing limit even sooner, sometime before the end of March.

"The Senate's failure to renew the Export-Import Bank Charter is a setback for American workers who produce the high-quality goods and services that are in demand around the world," said Ex-Im Chairman and President Fred Hochberg. "Ex-Im Bank increases U.S. jobs, pays for itself and earns money for the U.S. Treasury and, as a result, enjoys strong, bipartisan support. However, delays in renewing the Charter threaten over 1,000 export-related jobs that are supported every workday by Ex-Im Bank financing. Not reauthorizing the Bank places American companies at a serious disadvantage against their foreign competitors. We are already hearing that some customers of U.S. exporters are considering switching their purchases to foreign companies due to the uncertain availability of future Ex-Im Bank financing."

"We will continue to work with House and Senate leadership and I am confident that Congress will ultimately approve a four-year reauthorization of our Charter, but I urge them to act promptly before serious damage is done to American competitiveness," he added.

According to amendment sponsor Cantwell, groups supporting the amendment include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Small Business Association and the National Association of Manufacturers, among several others.

Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer