Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined 41 senators today – on the one year anniversary of the Export-Import Bank being unable to fully function – to call on the chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee to hold a vote on the nominee to the Export-Import Bank Board. The effort was led by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has refused to hold a committee vote on the nominee, Mark McWatters – a former staffer for Republican Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling – which is preventing the lack of a quorum on the board and halting the agency from financing many deals that support American workers, businesses, and competitiveness.
In a letter to Shelby, the senators reinforced the negative impact the lack of a quorum on the Export-Import Bank Board is having on businesses – large and small – and suppliers as well as workers across the country. They highlighted how some American companies have already been forced to move American jobs overseas because they have not been able to access financing from the Export-Import Bank.
The lack of a majority on the Board is halting in excess of $20 billion worth of deals waiting in the pipeline from being approved, and the United States is losing about $50 million in exports for each day McWatters’ confirmation is delayed.
“Since 2009, EXIM’s Board of Directors has approved and disbursed financing for 478 transactions that has directly supported exports from more than 2,000 different companies, including more than 800 small businesses,” wrote the senators. “Should the Committee fail to move forward with the nomination process, it will have a material, negative impact on jobs at small and large companies alike – as well as up and down the manufacturing supply chain – jeopardizing the livelihood of thousands of hard working men and women across the United States.”
McWatters was nominated for a position on the Export-Import Bank Board more than five months ago. He has yet to receive a hearing. Over the past 15 years, Export-Import Bank nominees have waited an average of 42 days to receive a hearing, and 83 days to be confirmed.
At the end of June 2015, Congress let the Export-Import Bank expire for the first time in the agency’s more than 80 year history. Even though Congress passed Heitkamp’s legislation in December 2015 reauthorizing the Export-Bank for four years with the support of a vast majority of U.S. senators, the Bank has still been unable to fully operate because of vacancies on the Export-Import Bank Board. With three vacancies on the five member board, the lack of a majority prevents transactions over $10 million from taking place, hindering support for American jobs and businesses – including for suppliers of companies that use the Bank – and preventing them from remaining competitive in the global economy.
The letter Heitkamp and Cantwell sent today to Shelby was also signed by U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Angus King (I-Maine), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
The full text of the letter can be found here.