The U.S House of Representatives this week passed by a decisive 313-118 margin a bill (H.R. 597) to reinstate and extend the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank charter through 2019. The fight to reauthorize the bank now heads to the Senate.
“NEI applauds the bipartisan House vote to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and strengthen U.S. competitiveness in the global economy,” Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) President and CEO Marvin Fertel said. “Continued operation of the Export-Import Bank will translate into hundreds of thousands of jobs for the American people. Particularly in the nuclear energy sector, these are good-paying jobs that leverage U.S. expertise in a technology area increasingly recognized as a way to raise living standards without emitting carbon.”
The bank’s charter expired on June 30. NEI is part of the Ex-Im Coalition, a large coalition of organizations and manufacturers advocating for the bank’s reauthorization to help them compete in foreign markets, often against state-financed bidders.
“We applaud the lawmakers who fought for U.S. workers and voted to reform and reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank. This vote was long overdue,” the coalition said. “Nearly all Democrats and the majority of Republicans in the House voted to ensure job creators have the tools they need to compete. With an overwhelming majority of members in both the House and Senate now on record in support of reauthorization, we urge Congress to send the Ex-Im reauthorization bill to the president’s desk as soon as possible.”
The bank’s continued operation also helps the United States meet several foreign policy and international trade objectives, Fertel noted.
“Beyond creating tens of thousands of jobs, the participation of U.S. companies in global nuclear energy markets advances nuclear safety, national security and nonproliferation influence in foreign nuclear energy programs. Nearly 70 reactors are under construction in 15 countries, and scores more are planned. The Export-Import Bank plays a central role in leveling the playing field for U.S. manufacturers and providers of nuclear energy services to successfully compete in this marketplace, where nations like Russia benefit from state financing to support their business tenders.”
The House vote was enabled Oct. 26 when 62 Republicans, joined by Democrats, used an uncommon discharge petition, to force the bill out of the House Financial Services Committee and directly to the House floor for a vote.
The Ex-Im Coalition praised House members who supported reauthorizing the bank.
It is unclear how Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will proceed or whether he will allow a bill to come to the floor for a vote as a stand-alone measure. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), the lead sponsor of the House bill, noted that a majority of House Republicans had voted in favor of the measure and said the Senate should act quickly to reauthorize the bank.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) expressed regret that a majority of the House and a majority of Republicans needed to resort to a discharge petition to bring the legislation to the floor.
“The opponents of reauthorization live in a world where the politics of purity trumps the realism of today and of economics. Here is the reality: In my district, thousands of jobs, millions of dollars of exports and many, many people rely on this being reauthorized.”
Whatever the path taken in the Senate, NEI also is urging Congress to promptly reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank.