As Congress and the calendar sprint toward August, NEMA member companies see two of their priorities on the top of the Hill’s must-do list: reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) and extension of federal highway programs. At this time, it’s unclear whether both of these tasks can be completed before Congress heads off for a break, but they are closely linked. Since the highway law needs to be reauthorized or extended by July 31, Senate supporters of Ex-Im are expected to seek to attach Ex-Im to a highway “vehicle”. Earlier this spring, sixty-five senators indicated their support for keeping Ex-Im’s doors open for four more years, recognizing the importance of its export credit functions for U.S. companies to make sales abroad.
Since Ex-Im’s authorization to support new business ran out June 30, key foreign competitors are relishing the prospect of a final closure later this year if Congress fails to act.
“With the US Exim Bank closing down, we would now have more market,” said Yaduvendra Mathur, chairman and managing director of India’s Export-Import Bank. “Now that competition will go away.”
Similarly, Chinese competitiveness would be boosted by Ex-Im’s demise, Export-Import Bank of China’s chief country risk analyst Zhao Changhui recently told reporters. “With respect to competition in strategy and policies between the U.S. and China, this is a good thing” for China, he was quoted as saying.
Click here or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to reach your Members of Congress and let them know that you support reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank.
On highways, as of today the House of Representatives and Senate are taking different approaches in part due to the prospect of an Ex-Im amendment that many in the House do not want to see and in part due to differences over how to fund federal construction and repair of transportation infrastructure. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has reported a six-year authorization that meets demands to provide a long-term basis on which to plan and execute roadway and transit upgrades. The full Senate is scheduled to hold a vote tomorrow (July 21) on whether to take up the bill, but the ink is not yet dry on where the millions of dollars needed are to be found. NEMA supports a fully-funded long-term reauthorization and joined over 60 trade associations in a June 20 letter calling for action.
Seeing the lack of clarity on where big dollars would come from, the House last week passed a five-month extension of the current highway law for $12.7 billion, using primarily transfers from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund.
In the short term — the next 10 days — Congress will produce some results on Ex-Im and highways, but it is unlikely to reach long-term solutions. NEMA and its members will continue to advocate for the latter.