Hamstrung Since 2015, Ex-Im Bank Is Back as Trump Trio Confirmed

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Export-Import Bank once again has the ability to back deals of more than $10 million -- for the first time since 2015 -- after the Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Donald Trump’s three nominees.

Senators confirmed Kimberly Reed for president of the bank, and former Representative Spencer Bachus and Judith DelZoppo Pryor to be members of the board of directors, providing the quorum needed to approve large deals.

The nominees were confirmed despite objections from conservative Republicans who say the Ex-Im bank provides corporate welfare for wealthy manufacturing and aerospace companies such as Boeing Co. and General Electric Co., and big banks, like JPMorgan Chase & Co., that help finance deals.

The Ex-Im Bank says it has almost $40 billion in pending transactions awaiting consideration by the board, which would support an estimated 230,000 jobs. Created during the Great Depression, the Ex-Im Bank helps foreign companies buy U.S. products when private banks won’t provide independent financing.

"Ex-Im has operated to benefit the wealthiest and the most politically connected businesses in America, as well as their overseas clients," Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, said Tuesday on the Senate floor. "It’s no coincidence that Ex-Im has been nicknamed Boeing’s bank when Ex-Im financing was at its peak."

The current authorization for the Ex-Im Bank expires at the end of September if not renewed by Congress, and business groups are already warning of the consequences for U.S. companies if it lapses.

“For manufacturers, this is a serious threat looming on the horizon,” Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a statement. “If Congress fails to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, lawmakers will be responsible for slowing manufacturing’s growth and handing countries like China a competitive edge.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.