Legislation in U.S. Congress Will Continue Ex-Im Bank

 - September 11, 2014, 3:24 PM
Export-Import Bank chairman Fred Hochberg tours a Siemens plant. (Photo: Ex-Im Bank)

The U.S. Congress moved closer to voting on “stopgap” funding legislation that includes a controversial provision to temporarily extend the charter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of American-made products, including airplanes and helicopters. Conservative Republicans backed by likeminded groups such as Heritage Action America accuse the federal agency of doling out “corporate welfare” to large companies, including Boeing, and oppose its reauthorization.

House Republican leaders included language to extend the Ex-Im Bank’s charter through June 30 in a “continuing resolution,” or temporary funding measure, to keep the federal government operating until December 11. The bank’s current five-year charter expires with the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30.

Both the House and the Senate were expected to vote on the continuing resolution the week of September 15. The bank’s leading critic in Congress, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told The Hill that he will reluctantly support the continuing resolution with the nine-month extension of the bank’s charter attached.

In opening remarks at a June 25 hearing of the financial services committee, Hensarling charged that large corporations are the main beneficiaries of Ex-Im Bank financing practices, which U.S. taxpayers fund. “Overwhelmingly and indisputably it’s some of the largest, richest, most politically connected corporations in the world—like Boeing, General Electric, Bechtel and Caterpillar," he said. “Delta Air Lines points out that Ex-Im’s loans to foreign airlines have killed as many as 7,500 domestic airline jobs because the bank will subsidize Delta’s foreign competitors.” At the same hearing, Delta CEO Richard Anderson testified that the bank “provides a tangible competitive advantage” to foreign carriers by subsidizing their purchases of Boeing airliners. The agency’s loan guarantees have saved state-owned Emirates airline as much as $20 million in financing costs per airplane, he said.

In a report it submitted in July to Sen. Jon Tester, (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee on efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs, the Government Accountability Office said the Ex-Im Bank’s financial exposure in widebody jets manufactured by Boeing was $32 billion as of March, representing 28 percent of its total financial exposure. Another 14 percent of financial exposure was associated with the financing of narrowbody jets ($16 billion) and 4 percent ($4 billion) with helicopters, other aircraft and related products.