Trade-dependent Washington state must demand Congress reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which for 80 years has helped local businesses join the global marketplace.
IT is a simple fact: Washington’s economy is largely fueled by international trade. One out of every three jobs in our state is tied to trade. Nearly 13,000 companies from Washington export goods. And in 2014 alone, we sold more than $90 billion in goods around the globe.
This includes airplanes built at Boeing and hops grown in the Yakima Valley destined for customers around the world. From mining in the east to forest products in the Cascades to the maritime businesses along our Pacific Coast, businesses across the entire state couldn’t survive without international trade.
For this reason, our state’s U.S. House delegation unanimously joined in a bipartisan effort and voted on Tuesday to restore the Export-Import Bank.
For more than 80 years, the Ex-Im Bank has helped Washington businesses sell their goods abroad by filling gaps in the commercial finance markets and providing financing and insurance products when no private sector alternative is available.
But since June — despite broad bipartisan support for the bank in Congress — a small group of conservative GOP members blocked an up-or-down vote on the renewal of the bank’s charter.
They tried to make an ideological case against the bank, saying taxpayers shouldn’t pay to help American companies succeed, ignoring the fact that since the Ex-Im Bank charges interest and fees, it doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime. In reality, most years the Ex-Im Bank collects more than it costs to run. Over the past two years alone, it has returned $1.7 billion to the U.S. Treasury.
They tried to make a political case — saying that closing the Ex-Im Bank would be a step in the right direction to shrinking government. But targeting a program that pays for itself, has fueled more than $300 billion in exports over the past few years (including more than $140 billion right here in Washington) and supported 1.3 million American jobs is most certainly a step in the wrong direction. After all, who thinks putting Americans out of work and shipping their jobs abroad is a good way to kick off a political campaign?
In just the few months since the bank’s charter was allowed to expire, the U.S. has lost global business and jobs nationwide.
Ellensburg-based Calaway Trading has relied on the Ex-Im Bank to export hay and agricultural commodity products. Oneonta Trading Corporation of Wenatchee, the first exporters of Washington apples, uses the Ex-Im Bank to export its fruit crops. Maple Valley’s Enertechnix utilizes the Ex-Im Bank to facilitate global sales of infrared cameras and gas-temperature-measurement tools used in power plants.
Now that the House moved forward on this issue, and more than 70 percent of members voted in favor of the Ex-Im Bank, its reauthorization has been sent back to the U.S. Senate for final passage.
With too many Washington and American companies already hurting from the Ex-Im Bank’s lapse, the Senate must act swiftly and decisively in support of reauthorization. Thankfully, our delegation, united, is standing up to lead on this issue.