Congress needs to end the ideological battle over the Ex-Im Bank and stop hurting the sales of U.S. companies trying to sell goods overseas.
HILLIARD’S Beer is gaining popularity in Sweden, where the Seattle-based brewery planned to expand sales this year. It has also received interest from distributors in Toronto and London.
Those opportunities are now on hold since Congress failed to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank last summer.
Elected leaders must end the ideological battle over Ex-Im and revive this vital tool for U.S. companies to grow exports overseas.
Hilliard’s Beer is one of hundreds of exporters that used Ex-Im to secure loan guarantees and credit insurance for international sales. The shutdown has resulted in more than $9 billion worth of deals lost, said U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
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A lot more is at stake — last year the bank completed $27.4 billion in transactions and supported 164,000 U.S. jobs.
Without credit insurance and loan guarantees, exporters can’t borrow money against overseas sales they’ve already made but haven’t received payment for. Those terms make it much harder and, in some cases, cost prohibitive to do overseas deals, said Ryan Hilliard, founder of Hilliard’s Beer.
Cantwell and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., rightfully argue that reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank is about increasing access to global markets that otherwise wouldn’t happen.
Most of their fellow lawmakers agree. Last week, the House voted 313-118 on a stand-alone bill to revive the bank. In July, the Senate voted 64-29 to reauthorize the bank as part of a highway bill.
But last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a stand-alone vote in the Senate. The House is now considering a highway bill that contains Ex-Im reauthorization, but some lawmakers are proposing amendments that would alter many of the bank’s functions such as blocking Boeing and other large companies from using it.
Those amendments are more attempts to dismantle an agency that was operating just fine until conservative lawmakers turned it into a wedge issue.
Congressional leaders who understand the pivotal role the Ex-Im Bank plays must fight to bring it back — in its full capacity.