Frustrated execs clamor for action on bank nominees

Business leaders are frustrated by Congress’s inaction on the Export-Import Bank, asserting that lucrative overseas deals are slipping away from American companies.

The 84-year-old agency has been without a quorum since late 2015. Without a quorum, the bank can’t approve loans of more than $10 million.

Large companies, including Boeing, frequently use the bank for loan guarantees and were instrumental last year in convincing President Trump to throw his support behind the bank.

Ex-Im has been without a chairman since Trump took office last year.

In December, the Senate Banking Committee approved four of President Trump’s nominees to the board, but rejected former Republican Rep. Scott Garrett (N.J.), Trump’s choice to lead the bank.

In the five months since the committee voted on the Ex-Im nominees, Trump has not nominated anyone else to helm the agency. The other nominees have been stuck in a holding pattern due to opposition from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who is urging reforms at the bank.

Business groups, such as the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have been exerting pressure on the Senate and the White House to make a move.

“Unfortunately, the Ex-Im Bank hasn’t been fully functional since 2015 and all of its board seats are now vacant, which has left U.S. exporters and $37.5 billion worth of high-quality, ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ products hanging out to dry,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The Senate Banking Committee has already approved, on a bipartisan basis, four highly qualified candidates to serve on the board, and swift action by the full Senate to confirm those nominees would give the bank the quorum it needs to get back up and running,” Bradley said.

“But as long as the seats remain vacant, U.S. businesses are at a disadvantage relative to global competitors,” he said.

Manufacturers argue that the United States has lost billions in deals and the delay is putting tens of thousands of American jobs on the line.

“Manufacturers and the many Americans whose jobs depend on the Export-Import Bank need the Senate to act to restore a quorum on the bank’s board of directors,” said Linda Dempsey, vice president of international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers, in a Friday blog post.

“That’s what we have repeatedly urged. That’s what members of both parties understand, and are echoing at this week’s [Ex-Im] conference. That’s what our country needs as soon as possible,” Dempsey said.