Shaheen, Ayotte back reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank

p>Both of New Hampshire’s U.S. senators voted Tuesday to reauthorize the Export-Import bank, a measure that passed the Senate despite political pressure from some conservative groups to eliminate the official export credit agency of the United States.Republican Kelly Ayotte and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen voted in favor of the extension, which passed the Senate, 78-20. The measure is now headed to the president for his signature.The bank’s charter will terminate at the end of May if there is no extension, which not only reauthorizes the bank for three years but also raises its lending cap from $100 billion to $140 billion.Reauthorization of the bank has largely been a routine matter since its establishment in 1934 to provide direct loans and loan guarantees to foreign customers of American-made goods.The bank — which also provides working capital loans to small businesses that export and insurance for exporters in case a foreign buyer fails to pay — is not taxpayer-funded, but pays for itself through fees collected.But this time around, the extension became a political sticking point, pitting various business organizations against free-market conservative groups that view the Ex-Im Bank as a subsidy for big business (the Ex-Im Bank’s biggest beneficiary is Boeing).The Cato Institute and The Club for Growth are among those that oppose the extension. The latter likened the Ex-Im Bank to “the Fannie Mae of international trade.””The Export-Import Bank’s actions are nothing more than market-distorting subsidies that pick winners and losers in the private sector,” the Club for Growth said in a release. “Market forces should dictate trade flows, not bureaucrats and politicians.”But various business groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable — supported the reauthorization, arguing that the Ex-Im Bank levels the playing field for thousands of U.S. companies to compete in the global marketplace with foreign companies that often receive aggressive trade financing support from their governments.”Because other countries are providing their own exporters with an estimated $1 trillion in export finance — often on terms more generous than Ex-Im can provide — failure to reauthorize Ex-Im would amount to unilateral disarmament and cost tens of thousands of American jobs,” read a letter sent by the U.S. Chamber to the House.Shaheen has been vocal in her support of the extension leading up to the vote, releasing an interactive map of the 27 New Hampshire companies that have taken advantage of the bank’s services in the past five years.Where the Republican Ayotte would come down on the measure was not as clear. The 20 “nay” votes all came from Republicans, but she was among the 27 Republicans who voted in favor of the extension.In a statement to NHBR, Ayotte said she voted for the reauthorization because of the importance of exports to the economy of New Hampshire, which in 2010 led the nation in export growth.”Last year, the Ex-Im Bank helped loan nearly $40 million to New Hampshire businesses. That helps create sustainable jobs in the state at no cost to the taxpayer,” she said. “The bipartisan bill I voted for extends Ex-Im for three years and includes important reforms aimed at bringing greater transparency and accountability to the bank.”Shaheen said she heard support for the reauthorization from companies like New Hampshire Ball Bearings in Laconia, which is not a direct client of the bank but which sells 80 percent of its products to the aerospace industry, which relies heavily on the bank’s export financing.”The Export-Import Bank strengthens our economy by helping American companies sell their goods abroad, expand their business and create jobs,” Shaheen said. — KATHLEEN CALLAHAN/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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