WASHINGTON, July 30 A bipartisan group of U.S.
senators introduced a bill to keep the Export-Import Bank open
for another five years on Wednesday, although the export
lender's future remains uncertain given a conservative campaign
to close it down.
The 80-year-old bank will be forced to close unless Congress
acts to renew its charter by Sept. 30, but critics led by Texas
congressman Jeb Hensarling have decried it as corporate welfare.
Supporters say the bank, which offers financing to foreign
buyers of U.S. goods and support for U.S. exporters, is vital
for small businesses as well as large firms such as aerospace
giant Boeing and heavy equipment manufacturers such as
General Electric and Caterpillar.
"The Ex-Im Bank creates jobs and helps U.S. businesses, big
and small, sell their products overseas at no cost to the
federal government," said Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from
coal-producing West Virginia, who introduced the bill along with
fellow Democrats Joe Donnelly, Mark Warner, Maria Cantwell, Tim
Johnson and Tim Kaine and Republicans Mark Kirk and Roy Blunt.
Manchin split off a proposal to ease restrictions on Ex-Im
financing for overseas coal-fired plants, which other Democrats
had opposed. That amendment would be introduced separately, his
office said in a statement.
A senior Senate aide said the chamber would try to get to
the bill when lawmakers returns from a five-week summer recess.
If it passes the Democrat-controlled Senate, there is no
guarantee a reauthorization bill will come up before the
Republican-controlled House, given opposition from senior
Republicans including incoming House majority leader Kevin
McCarthy as well as Hensarling.
The bill would slightly raise the bank's lending cap to $160
billion from $140 billion over a four-year period and require
the Bank to report to Congress on its business plan and risk
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Writing by Krista Hughes; Editing
by Ken Wills)