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Public Statements

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GARY G. MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I might consume.

Today we are considering H.R. 2072, the Securing American Jobs Through Exports Act, a bill which will reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. This legislation is the product of bipartisan discussions surrounding a common theme: maintaining and creating jobs in the United States.

The key to our economic recovery is jobs, without a doubt. In order to expand and hire new workers, American companies must have the ability to compete in a global economy. To create jobs, American companies need to be competitive with foreign companies that have access to credit in their countries.

While the U.S. is a leading voice in the effort to eliminate market-distorting export subsidies, the Ex-Im Bank has helped to ensure that there's a level playing field for American companies when they compete with foreign competitors who are basically supported by aggressive credit agencies.

Ex-Im responds to market distortion by leveling the playing field. Ex-Im loans and guarantees are often countervailing measures to compete against other foreign credit agencies.

Some Members have concerns about this program. This bill directs the Treasury Department to initiate and pursue negotiations with other countries to substantially reduce their subsidized export financing programs and other forms of export subsidies.

The problem we face is the option of allowing China to dominate the export market. This bill ensures that U.S. companies, large and small, can compete and win against foreign competitors like China and, as a result, create U.S. jobs without putting U.S. taxpayers at risk.

During the reauthorization process, we have made taxpayer protection our top priority. This bill includes strong language to ensure that surpluses that the Ex-Im Bank returns to the Treasury are continued today and in the future. We want the bank to be a continually self-financing entity.

The bill increases accountability and risk management requirements for the bank, as well as provides for an audit of bank transactions to monitor the effectiveness and adequacy of the bank's due diligence practice and lending policies.

The bill ensures that the bank stays true to its purpose as a lender of last resort and does not compete against private sector commercial banks.

The bill includes language to make sure default rates stay low. Ex-Im loans and loan guarantees present very low risks because they are backed by collateral of the real goods for which a buyer has already been found and prices have been agreed upon.

The current default rate at the bank is less than 2 percent, much lower than commercial banks. Even with the bank's track record of extremely low defaults, the bill includes language to ensure that default rates stay below 2 percent, and includes corrective action requirements if the rate ever goes above that level. The bank does not put taxpayers at risk now. Our goal in this bill is to ensure that the bank does not put taxpayers at risk in the future either.

The bill also includes a new transparency provision for large transactions and gives the public the opportunity to comment on such transactions. The provision seeks to ensure the bank has information it needs to confirm it is not supporting transactions used to support products that could be used to compete with American companies.

This provision was crafted in a way that does not impact U.S. companies' ability to sell their products and services to global customers. Proprietary information, confidential information, and trade secrets are absolutely protected in this provision.

In addition, while many of the large projects supported by the bank are known to the market, I want to emphasize that the bank, at its sole discretion, has the authority to determine the information disclosed to ensure that the competitiveness of American companies is not compromised by information provided by the Federal Register notice.

The legislation also provides information included in the technology improvements, a review of the bank's domestic content policy, and improvements to the access of textile industries to bank operations. This is absolutely necessary in this country. These provisions will ensure that our American companies can utilize bank products to compete globally.

This is not a subsidy and is no cost to the taxpayers. That needs to be emphasized. The way Ex-Im Bank allows U.S. companies to compete globally is an example of how our government can facilitate job growth without contributing to the national debt.

Far from being a handout to corporations, Ex-Im Bank is self-financing, it turns a profit for the American taxpayer, and it helps create jobs here at home.

Since 2005, the bank has forwarded more than $3.4 billion in profits to the Treasury above all costs and loss reserves, including $400 million in 2011 alone. The legislation before us today ensures that Ex-Im Bank will continue to turn a profit for American taxpayers.

Some will say that Ex-Im only benefits large corporations. However, small businesses account for 87 percent of Ex-Im's transactions. These small business transactions do not include the tens of thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses that supply goods to these large corporations.

Dave Ickert, vice president of Air Tractor of Olney, Texas, a small business engaged in the manufacturing and sale of agriculture and firefighting planes, said at one point in our hearing:

Ex-Im has contributed to the growth of Air Tractor and helped both create and maintain jobs in Olney, Texas. Ex-Im's support has allowed us to sell aircraft to customers who without that support would not have purchased our product. This is a direct contribution to our growth.

Air Tractor has 270 employees in a town that has a population of 3,000. Over 10 percent of the population who are adults work for this company in this town. It's the largest employer in Olney. Since 1994, when they did the first Ex-Im transaction, their export sales have increased from 10 percent of what they produced to 56 percent. With 56 percent export sales in 2010, there are over 100 employees at Air Tractor in Olney, Texas, that owe their jobs and have their jobs due to use of Ex-Im bank.

Mr. Ickert said:

As I have described it before, Olney is three red lights and a Dairy Queen; and the significance of this is that if we can create jobs on Main Street Olney through small business exporting, it can be done in small businesses from California to New York. If we can do it in Olney, Texas, we can do it all over this country.

Once again, I would like to thank my colleagues from both sides of the aisle for coming together to put American jobs before politics. Together, we have crafted a strong bill to ensure the bank is able to continue to support U.S. companies as they compete globally and, as a result, create American jobs.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. GARY G. MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her inquiry.

The bill requires a Federal Register notice to include the identities of the obligor, principal supplier, and guarantor. The initial notice is to include a description of the item being financed. However, the description must be constructed in a way as to not disclose proprietary confidential information or information that would violate the otherwise required disclosure of trade secrets as defined by the Trade Secrets Act, or information that would jeopardize jobs in the U.S. by supplying information which competitors could use to compete with other countries in the U.S.

When determining what description to use in describing an item being financed, the bank must take into account the totality of the Federal Register notice. For example, the description of the item should be done in a way that when combined with the name of the principal supplier, information is not disclosed which foreign competitors could use to compete against U.S. suppliers, thereby jeopardizing jobs in the U.S.

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Mr. GARY G. MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her inquiry.

The bill requires that the public be given not less than 25 days for the submission of comments prior to the board's consideration of the proposed transaction. Upon the conclusion of those 25 days, the bank should expeditiously prepare materials submitted to public comments for consideration by the board. Transactions in excess of $100 million are currently subject to review by the Congress for 25 days a session, which can be longer than 25 calendar days, as our intent is that the board proceed with consideration of a pending application as soon as legally and practically possible.

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Mr. GARY G. MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the remaining time.

There are a lot of people on our staffs that have done a great job. You've mentioned Lesli McCollum Gooch. She's been the senior policy director of the subcommittee. She's done a great job. Also, Randy Ross and Aaron Ranck. On the majority side here, Susan Blavin, Alex Teel, and Neil Bradley have all worked very, very hard. On the minority side, I would like to just thank Georgette Sierra. She's been incredible in this whole process, working with our side. Also, Daniel McGlinchey, Kirk Schwarzbach, Kelly Larkin, John Hughes, and legislative counsel, Jim Grossman.

There's been a lot said about this bill here. Let me make it very clear: Ex-Im Bank's default rate is less than 1.5 percent. There's no lender out there that has that stellar of a record. We've put additional funds in here for green technology because Ex-Im underwrites all their own loans. That's why they're performing so well. So we've created additional funds for them so they can increase their underwriting ability to make sure they're making good, safe loans.

Ex-Im Bank makes money for the taxpayers. And they've done a great job. We have an opportunity in this country to create jobs. We can yield those jobs to China, we can yield those jobs to Germany, to France, to other countries who want to take jobs from this country, or we can make sure that American companies, large and small, have an opportunity to compete. When they compete, they create jobs. And, guess what? They make money for the taxpayers because they give it back to the Treasury. That's a win-win for everybody.

The oversight we placed in this bill--and I want to thank Majority Leader Eric Cantor for working with me on this--when it came out of subcommittee and an addendum added to that have created a very, very safe institution.

With that, I ask for an ``aye'' vote, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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