- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Supporters of the Export-Import Bank said Tuesday they remain hopeful that Congress will revive the 81-year-old bank even as its authorization was due to expire, with business owners warning that a failure to do so will have catastrophic effects on employment and international competitiveness.

“There are overwhelming bipartisan votes to extend the bank,” said Aric Newhouse, senior vice president for policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, one of the many top business groups lobbying to keep the Ex-Im Bank in business. “It’s just a question of having the will and the political backbone to move ahead.”

“We’re confident this is a short-term blip, but our belief is that the bank will be extended,” he told reporters during a conference call Tuesday.

The optimism comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he is going to give senators the opportunity to vote on a renewal of the bank’s charter after admitting they have the votes to do so. A coalition of tea party Republicans and liberal Democrats, who denounce the bank as “corporate welfare,” successfully blocked a re-authorization.

Mr. McConnell and many top Republican leaders in the House have opposed re-authorization, as have leading outside conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America.

While congressional members head home for the Fourth of July holiday, business owners affected by the expiration of the Export-Import Bank remain angry with political leaders in Washington.

“The real frustrating part of the situation is you hear things like House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is my congressman and who I’ve met with twice, and other critics about how the bank isn’t really necessary,” said Don Nelson, president of California-based ProGauge Technologies. “To me, it just shows that these critics have little conception of the reality of international trade and finance.”

“The sad truth is that we’re just collateral damage for their ideology. Members in Congress have little to no business experience and little to no common sense,” he added.

U.S. companies said they are already seeing the effects of the closing of the Export-Import Bank as foreign competitors eye huge business openings.

“We received a very disturbing message yesterday that one of our competitors from China has informed our customers that we cannot secure financing for our bridges [in Ghana],” said Dick Rogovin, chairman at Ohio-based U.S. Bridge. “Therefore, they should consider another source. The reason for that is the news of the expiration of the Export-Import charter.”

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