Perhaps lost in the hoopla over Congress passing a highway funding bill last week, was, we believe, the equally important reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank for five years.
Indeed, Ex-Im Bank was placed in the same piece of legislation as the highway funding. Congressional leaders wanted it that way, and at times it seemed to perhaps be a stumbling block. But Congressmen and women from both sides of the political fence held strong to keep the reauthorization in place and on track.
Just a few months ago, it appeared the Ex-Im Bank was dead. Powerful interests in the House of Representatives were keeping that body from moving the legislation forward. It wasn’t until Rep. Lee Fincher (R-Tennessee) led a parliamentary maneuver to take the Ex-Im reauthorization bill out of a committee where it was stalled and bring it directly to the floor for a vote, that there was a glimmer of hope. The House voted overwhelmingly in favor, and the rest is history.
Fincher’s move was bold as it went against the wishes of several key Republican leaders of the House including the current Speaker Paul Ryan. But we believe that it was the strong unified voice of organizations’ such as Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) and our members that emboldened legislators like Fincher.
Ever since the charter for the Ex-Im Bank expired on July 1st, AIM, and our national partner, the National Association of Manufacturers, have helped lead the charge to save the bank. Through countless letters, position statements, face-to-face meetings, and even good old-fashioned phone calls, we made the case that Ex-Im was vital to the interests of companies large and small that do business overseas. Ex-Im is one of 70 such banks that help companies in their respective countries level the playing field when it comes to overseas business.
For every story of a large business like Boeing losing some of its foreign trade, there were dozens of smaller, much more vulnerable operations in much the same boat but without the same resources. We told our stories again and again, and Congress listened. We are especially proud of our Missouri Representatives and Senators. All ten voted in favor of Ex-Im at every vote. Rarely do you see all ten members of any delegation vote the same way on anything.
Sometimes, trying to get your voice heard on Capitol Hill can seem like crying in the wilderness; getting your points across to busy Congressmen and women like trying to knock down the Great Wall of China. But the unanimity shown by the members of AIM no doubt helped turn the tide and temper of the debate in Washington D.C. Instead of letting a worthwhile government service go quietly into the night, good old fashioned advocacy won the day. And business in Missouri and across the country will be much better for it.
The reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank may have been buried in the news of the day, but it was a win, a major win for all business, and AIM members deserve a lot of credit.