- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dozens of Senate Democrats urged Sen. Richard Shelby on Thursday to reconsider his decision to block a nominee to the Export-Import Bank, arguing his blockade is holding back an agency that enjoys majority support from Congress.

Mr. Shelby, Alabama Republican and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is refusing to consider J. Mark McWatters’ nomination to the bank’s board, saying the obscure credit agency has outlived its usefulness and should unwind its remaining obligations.

The board has two sitting members and cannot approve transactions over $10 million unless it forms a quorum by obtaining a third member, meaning clients like Boeing can’t finance bigger deals.

On Thursday, 41 Senate Democrats and an independent, Sen. Angus King of Maine, said they’d had enough.

“As you are well aware, Mr. McWatters is a well-qualified, Republican nominee and he deserves to have his nomination considered by the committee for an up or down vote. The failure to move Mr. McWatters’ nomination is beginning to have serious consequences for American workers across the country,” the lawmakers said in a letter to Mr. Shelby.

A product of the New Deal, the bank known as “Ex-Im” financed the sale of U.S. goods overseas for eight decades until its charter lapsed last summer.

Conservatives said the bank disrupted the free market with “corporate welfare” and should die off, but House Democrats and centrist Republicans made an end-run around House GOP leaders to revive the bank, which also received two-thirds support from the Senate.

Democrats say the bank is still hobbled by the lack of a quorum, however, exactly one year after Congress allowed it to go dark.

Ex-Im has 30 transactions in the pipeline worth more than $20 billion. Unless something is done, companies who await financing will move jobs overseas to take advantage of other credit opportunities, according to Democrats.

“There is no doubt that the will of both the Senate and the House is to allow Ex-Im to do its job and continue to provide critical export credit financing that facilitates U.S. exports and supports American workers,” said the letter by Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Maria Cantwell of Washington.

“We respectfully request that you reconsider your position and permit the committee to conduct its business and advance this critical nomination to restore the operating board quorum at the Ex-Im Bank,” the letter said. “American workers who face potential job losses and disruption of their economic security deserve as much.”

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