A bipartisan group of 68 House lawmakers are urging Senate leaders to get the Export-Import Bank running at full speed again.
Reps. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) and Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) on Tuesday sent a letter with 66 of their colleagues to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) urging the upper chamber to quickly confirm four nominees to the Ex-Im Bank’s board of directors.
“We believe the Senate should move forward expediently in approving these nominees so that Ex-Im can continue to play the important role it has in past years, supporting U.S. exports and creating and maintaining U.S. jobs,” the letter said.
Manufacturers and other business groups also have pushed the Senate to move forward quickly on filling empty bank board jobs.
In December, the Senate Banking Committee approved four nominees to the Ex-Im board — Kimberly Reed, Spencer Bachus , Judith Pryor and Claudia Slacik.
But the Senate has yet to vote to confirm them.
“The importance of Ex-Im in the ever-growing international market cannot be understated,” the lawmakers wrote.
“This entity allows American companies to compete against the than 79 nations that maintain export credit agencies to assist their nation’s exports, including top exporters like China, Canada and Mexico.”
The panel in December blocked President Trump ’s nominee to lead the bank — former New Jersey Republican Rep. Scott Garrett .
Banking Committee lawmakers weren’t convinced that Garrett, who had actively tried to shut down the Ex-Im Bank during his time in Congress, had changed his mind about the bank’s mission.
Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Garrett had taken a job advising Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton.
The White House has yet to nominate anyone else to helm the bank.
Since 2015, the Ex-Im Bank has been without a quorum on its board, which prohibits the agency from making deals of than $10 million.
The Ex-Im’s five-member board needs at least three spots filled to make those transactions.
Without a quorum in fiscal 2017, the bank only authorized $2.4 billion in loans, guarantees and insurance, supporting just 2,412 exporters, 40,000 jobs and $7.4 billion in U.S. export sales, the letter said.
That is a sharp decline from 2014, when the bank approved $20.5 billion in business, which supported 3,563 exporters, 165,000 jobs, and $27.5 billion in exports.