Not much can motivate 700 business leaders to drop everything for two days. But apparently flying across the country to talk about the need for Ex-Im Bank reauthorization to their member of Congress is one of those things!
That’s exactly what happened at last month’s Exporters for Ex-Im Fly-In. The Ex-Im Bank is so critical to the success of exporting businesses – especially small businesses –that hundreds of them rallied in DC to call for its long-term reauthorization. I had the chance to attend the Fly-In, and I came away with three key takeaways:
- Ex-Im Bank really is key to small business export success.
The majority of Fly-In attendees I met, both from Washington state and other states, were CEOs of small and medium sized manufacturing and agricultural businesses. Their message was clear: without access to Ex-Im financing and loan guarantees, they cannot compete with foreign companies that have access to much more generous export credit from their own governments. Often, the kind of export financing small businesses need is not available (or not affordable) from private lenders. Moreover, when Ex-Im opponents criticize Ex-Im as being a boon to large corporations, they forget how many small businesses that employ thousands of Americans (and Washingtonians) are suppliers for larger companies.
- The majority of Congress is unified in its support of Ex-Im Bank.
Given how polarized Congress and the American public are on almost every issue, it was great to see how much support there is for Ex-Im reauthorization from members of Congress. Since the Ex-Im Bank makes money for the U.S. government (it returned $1.1 billion to the Treasury between 2012 and 2013) while increasing our export competitiveness and creating jobs, it’s no wonder it’s such a broadly-supported program. The only reason Ex-Im Bank reauthorization hasn’t passed is that a few members of Congress – like US Representative Jeb Hensarling who chairs the Financial Services Committee –are preventing it from being brought to the floor for a vote.
- Our advocacy really does make a difference.
It’s easy to get discouraged and feel that we have no control over what happens in Congress. But our members of Congress really do want to hear from their constituents, and our stories play a big role in their decision making. When hundreds of people descend on the Capitol with a shared message, they notice. After dozens of Texans called on Representative Hensarling, even he is softening to the idea of letting a bill to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank have a vote in the Financial Services Committee. So don’t give up, and keep sharing your messages with your elected officials.
The Ex-Im Bank’s current charter expires June 30, so the next few months will be critical to continue to share our message about the need for a long-term reauthorization. So let’s keep up our energy – with so much momentum, success is within reach!