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Originally published September 10, 2014 at 6:02 PM | Page modified September 11, 2014 at 7:41 AM

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Export-Import Bank, crucial to Boeing sales, may get a reprieve

Saving the bank has been a priority of major business groups. About 3,000 U.S. companies received export assistance last year, according to the bank. Much of Boeing’s sales to foreign carriers is financed through the Ex-Im Bank.


Los Angeles Times

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The Export-Import Bank, in danger of closing at the end of the month because of strong conservative opposition, has neared a reprieve as Republican leaders included a nine-month extension of its charter in a short-term budget bill.

The provision came late Tuesday after House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters he has been working with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who has been rallying opposition to the 80-year-old agency, to find a way to reauthorize the bank’s charter before it expires Sept. 30.

“He thinks that a temporary extension of the Export-Import Bank is in order,” Boehner said.

House Republican leaders on Wednesday postponed Thursday’s planned vote on the budget bill to consider the Syria matter following President Obama’s speech Wednesday evening.

The speaker’s comments signaled a major shift in the battle over the fate of the bank, which provides loans and other assistance to foreign buyers of U.S. products.

There is strong Democratic support for the bank as well as backing from some Republicans, a combination that makes a temporary reauthorization likely to pass as part of the overall budget bill. The Senate also is expected to approve it.

Saving the bank has been a priority of major business groups. About 3,000 U.S. companies received export assistance last year, according to the bank. Much of Boeing’s sales to foreign carriers is financed through the Ex-Im Bank.

Lawmakers would extend the charter well short of the five years the White House wants, but long enough to draft changes to the bank’s rules of operation. It also would take a thorny issue for Republicans largely out of the election debate.

Hensarling and other conservative critics want to shut down the bank. They have said the export assistance is corporate welfare, noting that the bulk of the aid goes to large multinational companies such as Boeing.

The effort gained a boost when new House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said this summer that he favored closing the bank.

Hensarling said recently that a short-term reauthorization was not something he necessarily favored, but it might be needed if some of his colleagues wanted more time to consider the issue.

The Obama administration, most congressional Democrats and leading business groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce, are lobbying hard to save the bank, noting that 60 other countries offer export assistance to their companies.

The bank, which doesn’t receive any taxpayer funding, pays for its operations through interest and fees on its assistance and sends its profits to the government.

As with other banks, taxpayers are on the hook for any losses. Last year, Ex-Im provided $27.7 billion in export assistance and sent a record $1.1 billion in profit to the Treasury.

“Without the Export-Import Bank, it will pretty much kill us,” said Don Nelson, president of ProGauge Technologies in Bakersfield, Calif. The company makes equipment for the oil industry and depends on bank assistance to export to Oman and other Middle Eastern countries.

On Tuesday, Nelson was in Washington along with executives from four other exporters, organized by the National Association of Manufacturers, to lobby lawmakers for a long-term extension of the bank’s charter.

Nelson said he had a meeting scheduled Wednesday with McCarthy, who is his congressman.

“I honestly believe he was not familiar with how many companies in his district use Ex-Im Bank,” Nelson said.



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