(Adds Boeing letter to Hensarling)
WASHINGTON, July 25 A conservative U.S. lawmaker
called on Friday for the Export-Import Bank to halt deals with
Russia, but a U.S. company warned that a broader proposal to
close the export credit agency would stymie a project that is
helping to wean Ukraine off Russian energy.
Republican representative and Ex-Im critic Jeb Hensarling
said the worsening situation in Ukraine, where government forces
are fighting pro-Russian separatists, showed Russia was in
direct conflict with U.S. interests and said Ex-Im should stop
any financing that benefits Russian companies.
Hensarling, who chairs a House committee with jurisdiction
over the lender, wants Ex-Im to close down when its charter
expires at the end of September. Its prospects for survival
remain uncertain as Congress approaches a summer break.
"Ex-Im's continuing - and even increasing - connections with
Russian companies, many of them run by (Russian President)
Vladimir Putin's cronies, has got to stop and stop immediately,"
he wrote in a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama.
A spokesman for Ex-Im said the bank had worked quickly to
ensure it complied fully with all sanctions the United States
placed on Russian individuals and companies.
In 2013, Ex-Im authorized $630 million for deals in Russia,
mostly loan guarantees. Customers say they need the bank to
underwrite credit that commercial lenders avoid.
New Jersey-based nuclear waste specialist Holtec
International, however, said it was relying on Ex-Im to
guarantee a loan for a storage facility for used nuclear fuel in
Ukraine. The project would create about 200 U.S. jobs.
"Without the (Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility), Ukraine
is dependent on Russia to keep its nuclear reactors running,"
Holtec chief nuclear officer Pierre Paul Oneid said. "We are
literally at the 11th hour ... This could not have come at a
Big exporters such as Boeing Co have pressed House
conservatives to renew the bank. In a letter to Hensarling dated
Thursday that was obtained by Reuters, Boeing said "these
businesses want nothing more than an opportunity to compete
fairly in global markets with exporters in the 59 other
countries that have similar banks."
Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, said legislation to extend
Ex-Im bank's charter was unlikely to pass Congress next week,
the last before lawmakers return to their districts for the
It is more likely to come up in September, possibly as part
of a temporary move to keep funding the government.
"Short-term reauthorization is a last resort but we will not
allow Ex-Im bank legislation to expire. If we have to do a
short-term reauthorization, we will get that done," Murphy said
on a conference call with reporters.
(Reporting by Krista Hughes, additional reporting by Emily
Stephenson; Editing by Dan Grebler, Nick Zieminski and Ken