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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. CANTWELL. Madam President, I rise to speak in support of Fred Hochberg and his nomination to the second term as Chairman of the Export-Import Bank. I have heard now two speeches on the other side of the aisle from my colleagues who not only seem to take exception with Mr. Hochberg's nomination but the Export-Import Bank in and of itself.

I think they are wrong. I think they are wrong because they do not understand Washington's need to focus on the fact that we have an export economy. We want U.S. products to be bought and sold in countries and markets all over the world. We are here today to talk about a critical vote to support 225,000 jobs that are part of our export economy. If we fail to confirm Fred Hochberg for a second term as Chairman of the Export-Import Bank, businesses across the United States will lose a key tool in job creation.

This is because his term expires, runs out, on July 20.

What would that mean? It would mean the Export-Import Bank, which needs at least three of its five board members to have a quorum, would not have a quorum and would not be able to issue any new loans. This means the transactions that U.S. companies depend on, the guarantees and the transactions to finance the sale of U.S. products and services overseas, would not be able to move forward.

If we don't confirm Mr. Hochberg this week, the bank cannot approve loans and it would take away a job-creating tool that American innovators and businesses count on. This is why I am calling on my colleagues, in a bipartisan fashion, to confirm Mr. Hochberg as the Export-Import Bank Chairman for a second term.

His nomination is supported by the Chamber of Commerce and by the National Association of Manufacturers. He has proven to be a solid leader in his organization by listening, implementing, innovating, and administering a very critical job-creation tool.

When I visited businesses across my State in 2012 to talk about the Export-Import Bank, I heard the American people wanted us to focus on job creation and supporting business. The Export-Import Bank helps American-made products to be shipped all around the world.

I saw a company in my State, Yakima, WA, the Manhasset music stand company, use the Export-Import Bank to make sure sales go all around the globe, including China.

I saw a grain silo manufacturer called SCAFCO in Spokane, which also would testify to the fact that they have been able to sell their grain to many countries around the globe because of the financing the Export-Import Bank guarantees.

Airline cockpit hardware made by the Esterline Corporation factory in Everett, WA, also testified to the same effect; that when you are looking around the globe to secure financing of U.S. products into more developing countries, it is hard to get the financing to work.

The United States can be left at the starting line or the United States can use this vital tool that I call a tactic for small business to get access to make sure their products get a final sale.

The Export-Import Bank supports 83,000 jobs in my State alone, which benefits from the finance mechanism. Over the last 5 years, it has supported many jobs throughout the United States. Overall, it supported, as I said, 225,000 jobs and more than 3,000 businesses in 2012.

In the small business area, 2,500 of those are small businesses. The notion that this is somehow crony capitalism--and maybe he is talking about the shenanigans that happened on Wall Street, but he is certainly not talking about the Export-Import Bank.

I am advocating that we keep the very positive results of this bank, keep Mr. Hochberg, and make sure we continue to sell our products from Everett, WA, or Auburn, KY, all over the globe.

Ninety-five percent of the world's consumers live outside our borders. The question is: are we going to make sure that U.S. products get into the hands of the growing middle class around the globe? In 2030, China's middle class will be 1 billion people, 1 billion middle-class people in China, up from 150 million today. India's middle class will grow 80 percent, from 50 million to 475 million.

We need our businesses, large and small, to have the tools to reach this new, growing tool of consumers. Not only does this help businesses, the Ex-Im Bank also helps taxpayers.

I don't know where the idea that this is crony capitalism comes from, but this program is a very good deal for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In fact, it returned nearly $1.6 billion to the U.S. Treasury since 2005. It actually is helping us return money to the Treasury and it helps our businesses continue to grow in export markets.

As we speak, there are almost $4 billion in transactions awaiting approval for the bank; that is, if we don't approve the chairman, these deals might not go through. There are many American businesses counting on their transaction so they can compete in an international market.

The international competitor is not going to wait until we approve Mr. Hochberg if we delay this. They are going to go ahead, cash in on the business deals, and our competitors will win.

I think the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it best in a 2011 letter to congressional leaders: The Export-Import Bank enables U.S. companies, large and small, to turn export opportunities into real sales that help create real jobs in the United States of America.

I was proud that Mr. Hochberg came to Seattle last year for the opening of a regional Ex-Im office, focusing on small businesses to make sure they can get the financing for end products to get to these markets. We should be moving more toward policies to help businesses, the small businesses, grow with confidence into these international markets.

I ask my colleagues to do the right thing, follow through, and confirm this chairman.

Since its creation in 1934, the Export-Import Bank was approved by unanimous consent or voice vote 24 times. For 24 times no one called this crony capitalism. No, they were supporting it. The last time we authorized it, it had 78 votes. It ended up in the House of Representatives with 330 votes.

I am pointing this out because all of the delay in Mr. Hochberg's confirmation hurts business in the end, when the majority of my colleagues do agree this is a vital tool to help boost products made in America.

In the last reauthorization we did make improvements to strengthen the Ex-Im Bank. Quarterly reports are delivered on the default rates, which now can't go above 2 percent.

The Government Accountability Office also is required to work with risk management structures to make sure loans and businesses are not too risky. Transactions above a certain dollar amount receive public comment, and they deliver a yearly report on those transactions.

I know my colleagues have mentioned this issue about aviation, and I can guarantee, as the chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, I want U.S. airline industries to be competitive in international markets. Certainly, the world community on financing of airplane sales is working together to make sure those are closer to market-based rates and working on the same page so these financing schemes work together.

The 2011 Aircraft Sector Understanding sets out the terms and conditions on how airlines can finance aircraft purchases using Government-backed financing. The Understanding requires a closer alignment with commercial market borrowing rates. This agreement covers all major trading partners except China.

All of these improvements we continue to make in the Ex-Im Bank are important. As I said, Mr. Hochberg has been open to many discussions as to how we move ahead. Let us not deny the fact that in developing markets, a financial tool such as the Export-Import Bank, that actually delivers on helping job creation in the United States by getting the sales of many different products into these developing countries and growing middle class, is very good for the United States. The fact that it returns to the taxpayer is very positive.

Let's not let this slip another moment. Let's get Mr. Hochberg back to the task at hand, which is approving these transactions so U.S. companies can continue to grow jobs here by accessing new markets overseas.

I yield the floor.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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