Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 5068) to reauthorize the operations of the Export-Import Bank, and to reform certain operations of the Bank, and for other purposes, as amended.
Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds.
I rise in support of H.R. 5068, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2006. I would like to thank the gentlewoman from Ohio, Chairman Pryce, for her leadership on this bill. It has been a long process of meetings and negotiations, but I believe that we have crafted a solid product that focuses on the core mission of the Ex-Im Bank. This mission is to increase U.S. exports and, most importantly, U.S. jobs.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to my colleague from Illinois, the chairman of the Small Business Committee, Mr. Manzullo.
Mr. MANZULLO. Mr. Speaker, I also want to join in praising Chairmen Oxley and Pryce for the tremendous work that they have done on reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank.
Mr. Speaker, now more than ever we need the Ex-Im Bank. With the collapse of the Doha round of the WTO, [Page: H5750]
other nations will continue to vigorously use their government-sponsored export credit agencies to promote their exports. The unfortunate reality is that American companies often win export sales on quality and price only to later lose because their competitors were able to obtain faster, less expensive export credit funded by other countries. Supporting
this bill will ensure that an attractive foreign financing package will not be the deciding factor in winning an export opportunity. Defeating the bill will amount to unilateral disarmament in global trade.
While Ex-Im Bank supports large business deals, this bill should actually be renamed the Small Business Exporters Acts of 2006. H.R. 5068 restores a viable small business division and creates a Small Business Committee within Ex-Im Bank to better serve the needs of America's small exporters. The legislation also enhances the bank's delegated loan authority with respect to medium-term transactions by private lenders for small businesses.
This is one key tool to help Ex-Im reach and exceed its 20 percent statutory mandate for small businesses.
The manager's amendment contains further improvements to the bill to make small business truly the focus of the bank. This reform designates adequate staff at each of the bank's operating divisions to specialize in the needs of small business exporters. This staff will also be jointly supervised by the Small Business Division. Furthermore, these small business specialists will have the authority under appropriate guidelines to approve loan guarantee and insurance applications of up to $10 million.
This provision will help small business exporters overcome the obstacles of the slow internal approval process within Ex-Im Bank.
Finally, the manager's amendment automatically appoints these small business specialists to serve as members of the Small Business Committee at the bank. These small business specialists will be on the front line of assisting small business and will have firsthand knowledge of Ex-Im products at work and what needs to be changed.
I was pleased to work with many of the industry groups which support Ex-Im Bank, particularly the Small Business Exporters Association, in the development of the small business provisions in H.R. 5068.
Mr. Speaker, passage of this bill will send a powerful positive signal to small business exporters around the Nation that there will be internal advocates for them within the bank from the time they enter the door until the time they exit with a decision. With these new legislative enhancements to Ex-Im's charter, small business exporters will have strong shoulders to stand on to win trade deals overseas.
I urge the adoption of H.R. 5068.
Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, as the ranking member of the Financial Services Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Export-Import Bank, I am delighted to stand and speak in support of H.R. 5068, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2006, introduced by our Subcommittee Chair, Deborah Pryce.
This bipartisan legislation was overwhelmingly supported in the Financial Services Committee and is also supported by the Small Business Committee on a bipartisan basis. The original cosponsors include not only Representative Pryce and myself, but the majority and minority leadership of both committees. We have all worked together in this bill to fairly address the concerns of many viewpoints, and I want to thank those Members and their staffs for their hard work and effort to listen
to many points of view and to produce a bill on which we can all agree.
I also want to take a moment to thank Chairman Oxley for his leadership on this bill and on so many others throughout his tenure. The Financial Services Committee and this Congress will feel his absence. This bill is a good example of the bipartisan work of the committee that Chairman Oxley helped to make possible. We don't always agree, but we can often work together to find points of agreement, as we have done on this bill.
This bill responds to concerns that the committees involved have had for some time and that we heard repeatedly from our constituents, both businesses and interest groups, as we began work on this very important piece of legislation.
First, the bill reaffirms Congress' strong intent that the bank support small businesses to a greater extent than at present, consistent with sound lending practices. To this end, the bill creates a Small Business Division within the bank run by a senior VP who reports directly to the chairman. The staff of this new division are dedicated exclusively to small business transactions, reflecting the fact that these deals and these clients need unique skills. Within this division, the bill creates
an office charged with expanding outreach to women and minority-owned businesses. On these sections, the leadership of the Small Business Committee was especially valuable, and I want to thank my colleague Representative Velazquez from New York.
Secondly, based on numerous comments, we also concluded that the bank could increase its activity in Sub-Saharan Africa consistent with sound lending principles by being more flexible in its financing and underwriting terms. And the bill contains a mandate to that effect.
Third, as a proud member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues and the representative of a large and vibrant Armenian-American community, I support the provisions which would prohibit the Export-Import Bank from funding railroad projects in South Caucasus region that deliberately exclude Armenia.
Fourth, in listening to my constituents and others talk about their experiences with the bank, it became clear to me that businesses, large and small, were frustrated by the lack of transparency and unfriendliness in the bank process. Several of them said that their applications simply disappeared.
At my initiative, the bill contains several transparency reforms that respond to this concern. I expect these relatively low-cost changes will provide significant benefits to Ex-Im clients. They include notification requirements, so that applicants know what is happening to their application.
Ex-Im has recently put up an improved Web site, and the bill requires that applicants be able to access their application on that site and see where it is in the process. Most colleges manage student applications in a similar manner, and it is time for Ex-Im to implement simple steps like this to help the American public.
In the same vein, the bill contains a requirement for board action on applications that have been subject to economic impact analysis. These applications tended to die a lingering death as Ex-Im sat on them. That is really not fair. The bank should tell applicants whether it can support them or not in a reasonable time frame.
Finally, and very important, the bill contains new provisions to make the bank more competitive with other countries' export credit agencies, or ECAs, so that the bank and U.S. companies are not fighting with one hand tied behind their backs. In particular, the bill gives the bank authority to use the Tied Aid Fund, a fund established several years ago by Congress to combat unfair export practices by other countries' ECAs. To date, Treasury has blocked the use of this fund as Congress intended,
and this underlying bill will correct that.
This reform and reauthorization legislation is urgently needed. Today, more than ever, the future of the Export-Import Bank is of great interest and concern because it has significant potential to affect the national economy, job growth and our trade imbalance.
We are faced with the need to pass reauthorization legislation for our Nation's export credit agency at a time when the demands of the global marketplace seem increasingly pressing and difficult and the agenda of the Ex-Im Bank is more critical to our economy than ever before.
The Ex-Im Bank has long played a key role in the economy of many of the districts we each represent. As the independent U.S. Government agency that assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to markets around the world, through export credit insurance, loan guarantees and direct loans. But the bank's mission of creating and maintaining U.S. jobs through financing exports takes on a [Page: H5751]
new urgency and importance in the new global economy.
Tom Friedman's book, The World is Flat, brought home to many of us the fact that an economic tsunami is occurring under our feet. The convergence of events that have brought India, China and many other countries into the global supply chain for services and manufacturing has created an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of the world's two biggest nations, giving them a huge new stake in globalization.
As former Chairman Greenspan was fond of telling us when we asked him about the loss of jobs in this country, we need to recognize, he said, that all of a sudden a huge number of highly educated people from formally noncompetitive countries have entered the global workforce. We cannot afford to be uncompetitive in the rapidly changing global market or complacent about our status in the global market.
As leadership on both sides of the House recognize, we must empower and support Ex-Im now more than ever. I think we have crafted a bill that Members from both sides can support and that is much needed. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 5068.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, this bipartisan bill will strengthen the Ex-Im Bank's ability to help our exporters increase their businesses abroad. During a February roundtable meeting held in my district, many businesses said that they only learned about the bank's tremendous resources by accident. I am pleased that this and other suggestions made by these businesses were incorporated into the bill, including language that directs the bank to increase its outreach to small business.
I encourage Members of this body to spread the word about the bank's export financing opportunities, and I encourage Members to contact the bank to determine what businesses, large and small, directly and indirectly, are being supported by the bank's services.
For example, I learned that Ex-Im financing for one aircraft can translate into work for over 100 small businesses in my district alone. And I received a report issued by the bank last Friday that showed businesses in my district, ranging from a knee guard company to one that makes printing presses, have benefited from about $4.6 million in Ex-Im products over the past decade.
On another note, I would like to take this opportunity commend the bank's new chairman, Jim Lambright and his team for aggressively moving on several important fronts; helping our U.S. businesses to keep a competitive edge in the global marketplace, listening to businesses and implementing bank reforms.
For example, to help them beat foreign competitors, businesses in my district suggested that the bank enhance application transparency and provide electronic on-line processing. The bank has done just that. A business can now register with the Ex-Im Bank online and easily track its application as it moves through the review process.
Mr. Speaker, in our increasingly competitive global environment, we must ensure that we provide every advantage, and remove every disadvantage, for U.S. businesses to ``win the sale'' over foreign competitors. Make no mistake about it: Ex-Im is one of the best tools we have to ensure that our businesses are allowed to beat the competition abroad. More importantly, it is jumper cables to the economy, helping U.S. businesses increase exports and create more and better U.S. jobs.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the honorable gentlewoman from New York (Ms. Velazquez), the ranking member of the Small Business Committee. I thank her once again for her leadership on this legislation.
(Ms. VELAZQUEZ asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)
Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the gentlelady from New York for yielding, and also for the great leadership that she exhibited in working in a bipartisan manner on this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 5068, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2006. The legislation before us today will increase lending opportunities for all of our Nation's exporters and will improve the country's trade performance.
The Nation's rapidly and exponentially rising trade deficit indicates that our businesses are losing their competitive edge in the global economy. One sector of American industry, small businesses, has bucked this trend, demonstrating success exporting to markets across the world. Today, these businesses are the Nation's leading exporters, dominating many sectors, operating with a trade surplus, and are growing two times faster than their corporate counterparts. However, due to limited finances
and production capacity, these firms face obstacles trading internationally.
The Export-Import Bank was established to increase the capacity for all United States businesses to competitively engage in international trade by providing access to affordable financing and insurance. Yet the bank has failed to fulfill its congressional mandate established in the previous reauthorization to ensure that small businesses are a priority in lending decisions.
To establish a culture that prioritizes these businesses, the bank's institutional structure on policies must be enhanced to focus on small exporter issues. I believe the new changes adopted in the legislation will significantly expand lending opportunities as it creates a new Small Business Division, an Office for Minority Exporters and a minority financing goal at the bank. These changes will ensure that the bank fulfills its mandate to support a successful component of the Nation's trade
The country will significantly benefit from challenging the bank to expand financing opportunities for all of our entrepreneurs. By approving this legislation, we have the opportunity to keep small and minority businesses on the path to success. By supporting a diverse and successful set of exporters, we will also ensure that the Nation improves its trade performance.
I urge Members to support the bill to ensure that all of our promising businesses can succeed in the global economy.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5068, the Export-Import Bank reauthorization bill.
I would like to thank the Committee on Financial Services chairman, Mr. Oxley, and Ranking Member Frank for moving this important measure through our committee.
Ms. Pryce, the chairwoman on the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology, and, of course, our ranking member, Mrs. Maloney, who has provided leadership on this issue as well as many other issues, has done a fabulous job on making sure that the members of our committee understood very well the importance of the Ex-Im Bank and how it benefits our entire country and small businesses as well as some large businesses. I thank her for bringing
this measure to the floor.
The reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, H.R. 5068, is particularly important in light of our current trade deficit which stands at more than $60 billion. Indeed, we must continue to be proactive in terms of programs that will encourage the expansion of our exports. The export sector of our economy is critical to job creation at the local level.
This bill makes the Ex-Im Bank more relevant in today's global economy, because it better supports U.S. exports. Last year the bank was engaged in more than 3,000 transactions, with an export value of $17.9 billion and returned over $1.7 billion to the Treasury.
This bill should increase the overall level of exports. Of course, I am encouraged by the provisions of the bill related to small businesses. Under the bill, an Office of Small Business is established to be dedicated to small business issues.
Ex-Im needs to be viewed as a resource, not just for large exporters but for small exporters as well. The management of the office of our senior official sends a strong signal to the small business community that small businesses are an important part of the Export-Import equation. Equally important, the office should be required to interface with the U.S. Small Business Administration, which has built an excellent reputation as a repository of information for small exporters.
This reverses a trend that I believe developed as a result of the weakening of policies at the bank that have been in place to encourage the participation of small businesses in our export market, particularly minority-and women-owned business.
During markup of this bill, an amendment that I sponsored had been made part of the bill reported to the full House. It requires the bank to develop performance measures related to minority- and women-owned business programs. This will ensure that the management of Ex-Im Bank is directly involved in developing programs designed to increase participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in Ex-Im Bank programs.
The performance measures will be developed in concert with GAO and will enable Congress to determine how the small business programs for minorities and women that are put in place are performing. In addition, I am pleased that the bill contains a provision to promote increased trade with Africa.
I consider Mr. Paul as a serious person. I take him seriously. I will look into some of that which he has said.
Mrs. KELLY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of today's H.R. 5068, to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. I want to thank Chairwoman Pryce, Chairman Oxley, and Chairman Manzullo. We have created a strong bill that will empower small businesses in America to export.
This legislation gives small businesses dedicated loan officers and creates a structure for dealing with small business concerns that ensures that they are dealt with at the highest level of the bank. America's competitiveness and economic growth depends on small business exporters.
American-made products are still the best in the world, and they deserve to [Page: H5753]
have the same support from our government in making sales that our foreign rivals do. Today's bill recognizes that fact and challenges Ex-Im to meet its commitment that 20 percent of all the lending goes to small business.
Passage of H.R. 5068 today will not end the strong oversight of Ex-Im that Chairmen Manzullo and Pryce have provided in the last few years. Our success will not be measured by passing this bill, but it will be measured by the number of small business jobs that we create through increased exports by supporting America's small businesses. I urge passage of H.R. 5068.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentlewoman from New York for yielding me time.
Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the leadership of the Small Business Committee and your leadership, the leadership of the Financial Services Committee. I would like to say that this bill spells relief, r-e-l-i-e-f, I believe. The reason is because we have heard over and over again that Export-Import Bank gives gifts to large corporations, tax giveaways, if you will, using the American people's money simply to provide to those who already have.
I have repeatedly said that the backbone of America are small and medium-sized businesses. These are the businesses that are in our neighborhoods, in our cities, large and small, our counties, our rural hamlets.
The opportunity for small business to engage in Export-Import with the financial assistance and the collaboration with the Small Business Administration is long in coming. And this fix is long in coming.
I would argue that many of the regions that we are attempting to engage and break the barriers or break the concrete wall of a trade deficit has to do with small and medium-sized businesses, because the continent of Africa is filled with small and medium-sized businesses.
Their cultural traditions, their tribal traditions focus on the tribal hierarchy of women entrepreneurs in the marketplace. We find in south Asia, in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh there are opportunities for small and medium-size businesses to work with our small and medium-sized businesses, or for our small and medium-sized businesses to be able to engage internationally, if you will.
China, to break that very huge trade deficit, this now gives the financial anchor for small and medium-sized businesses to get the job done. I have always supported the Ex-Im Bank. I do think that any leg up or leverage that we can get, as we are on the international trade arena or development, is an important one; but now we have an opportunity to build on small and medium-sized businesses, and I hope as this legislation is passed, the word will go quickly out and that the lines will form to
the left and the right for small businesses to become engaged.
With that, again, let me thank the proponents of the legislation. I ask my colleagues to support it.
Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, at this point we do not have any further speakers. I urge a strong vote on this bill. It is supported by the Financial Services Committee, the Chair and the ranking member, the Chair and the ranking member of the subcommittee, and the Chair and ranking member of the Small Business Committee.
It has a very special focus on enabling small businesses to compete in the global market, and it will help America's competitiveness and economic growth.
I urge a ``yes'' vote on this bill.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say that looking at my district, and seeing the value of exports, $4.6 million that our companies have found for export value, and that works down to $295 million for small businesses.
I think that the Ex-Im Bank is one that is, the mission is so important that we increase U.S. exports and more importantly U.S. jobs. I think that is exactly what this bill is set up to improve and to make sure that that happens.
We are in a global economy. We are in competition with countries from all over the world. If we are to maintain our high standards, we have got to compete in the export market. I think this bill will help to do that. I would urge all Members to support the bill.
Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss not to thank Chairman Oxley for all the work that he has done on this bill, again Chairman Pryce and Ranking Member Maloney for all of the work that they have put into this.
Mr. Speaker, I would urge an ``aye'' vote.