What does WCIT do to celebrate the reauthorization of the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank? Eat sausages and drink craft beer of course!
This week we partied at Hilliard’s Brewery with dozens of local businesses who utilize the EXIM Bank’s programs for a very special reason: the EXIM Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg, Governor Inslee, Senators Murray and Cantwell, and Representative Heck, McDermott, Larsen and DelBene gathered to celebrate the Bank’s reauthorization with us!
While there was much to celebrate thanks to the Bank reopening in December, Chairman Hochberg and our members of Congress reminded us of one sobering fact: the EXIM Bank cannot fully operate until they have a quorum (meaning, a required number) of Board members. The Bank currently only has two of the five Board seats filled. Until they fill at least one more, the Bank cannot make any loans over $10 million, which hampers large sales of Washington products.
While it seems that problem would be easy enough to fix, Congress must vote to accept President Obama’s nominations to the EXIM Board. Specifically, the Senate Banking Committee must approve any appointment, and leaders on that Committee have not been supportive of EXIM Bank in the past. WCIT will do whatever we can, including writing letters to the Committee and visiting with key members during our May DC Fly-In, to convince them to vote on EXIM Board nominations.
Until the EXIM Bank is operating at full capacity, WCIT will continue spreading the message of why the Bank is so critical to our state – and nation’s – international competitiveness. Over 70 percent of Washington’s businesses that use the Bank are small businesses like Hilliard’s Beer, and they often do not have access to other export financing and insurance options that will keep them competitive. If they have access to other options, they are often too expensive to be viable. Since other countries provide robust export support to their own exporters, it’s critical U.S. businesses have access to reliable EXIM services to compete on a level playing field.
WCIT still has some work to do to help get the EXIM Bank over this last hurdle, but with export financing flowing again to many of our small businesses, we wanted to take this chance to pause and celebrate this milestone of reauthorization. So let’s raise a toast to the 161,000 jobs in Washington state supported by the EXIM Bank – may they continue to grow as our exports reach new heights! Cheers!