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Bring Jobs Home Act - Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. CANTWELL. Madam President, I join my colleague from Washington who was just on the floor to take a moment to recognize the heroic efforts that are underway in the State of Washington, battling wildfires with individuals who are trying to protect their homes and property. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Koczewski, a retired State trooper and veteran who suffered a heart attack and died while trying to save his own home.

I thank the local, State, and Federal agencies that are working together to meet the logistical needs of extinguishing these multiple fires and for the efforts they have already made to help save lives and minimize damage in what is the largest wildfire in our State's history.

I thank all of the community organizing individuals who have done so much work in their individual communities to support the efforts of the firefighters and to work with everybody in the community to make sure every aspect of security and safety is there for the families who have lost their homes.

I thank the individuals who have been working to provide shelter and to help their neighbors no matter what it takes.

There is a huge spirit alive in the Okanogan people who are working very hard to make sure they are also contributing. They have a great deal of self-reliance, spirit, and they want to make sure that, as FEMA and others are moving in, they are also responsible in helping with fighting the fires and to work to make sure as many people as possible in the community can be saved from this devastation.

We are hearing many moving stories of Washingtonians donating their time, volunteering goods, things everybody in the community needs.

So I thank the people of Washington and particularly in the central part of the State for everything they are doing to help battle this fire.

EXPORT-IMPORT BANK

Madam President, I also come to the floor to talk about the Export-Import Bank and the fact that we still need to work out a deal on the Senate floor so we can move this legislation. Time is running out. We only have a few days before the August recess and literally only a few legislative days when we return to make sure we reauthorize this important credit agency that helps manufacturers export their products.

When you grow U.S. manufacturing, you grow U.S. jobs. What we want to do is make sure our manufacturers have a fair shot at getting their products sold overseas. So it makes no sense to me that the fate of an organization that is such an important tool to businesses and comes at no cost to the taxpayers cannot get reauthorized. In fact, I am sure there are colleagues in the House of Representatives who would, if they had a chance, just outright kill the credit agency altogether.

Last week 31 Governors signed a letter that basically called for the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. That brings the total number of Governors to 37. I am proud my Governor, Jay Inslee, along with Governor Robert Bentley from Alabama, led an effort to say to the Congress: This is important to do. They see the result in their States as it relates to jobs, and they want to make sure we get this reauthorized.

There are Governors from all over the political spectrum--liberal Democrats, to moderate Democrats, to moderate Republicans, and even tea party Republicans--so there are Governors out there from Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, to Governor Paul LePage of Maine, who want to get this important tool reauthorized. Even though they are from many different spectrums, they see that this creates jobs in their State.

I would like to point out that nine of those signatures come from Republican Governors, plus five Republican Governors sent their own letter. So that is 14 Republican Governors who joined a chorus of voices in the legislative body to make sure we are doing what is right for the economy and renew this charter for the important Export-Import Bank.

I wish to point out from the letter that it basically says that without the financing, U.S. firms would have lost sales to overseas competitors.

So this is what the Governors are trying to tell us. They are stewards in their States of jobs and the economy, and they are very concerned about the Export-Import Bank. So we want to make sure we continue to listen to those Governors and get their help in making sure their Members of Congress from their individual States support this legislation.

They also are talking to thousands of small business owners who are saying that failing to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank would lead to fewer exports and a loss of jobs in all 50 States. They are out there trying to make sure they are drumming up support in the congressional delegations of their States. That is because trade is a critically important aspect to our economy.

I just talked to one of my colleagues today who was telling me how much their State was recovering, but in the areas where they were doing the most exports, their State was really growing--that particular part.

In 2013, U.S. exports reached $2.3 trillion in goods and services. So exports across the Nation that are attributable to the Ex-Im Bank support about $37 billion worth of U.S. exports and about 205,000 related jobs. So you can see that the Export-Import Bank is a vital tool to creating jobs in our U.S. economy, and it does all of this returning $1 billion to the Federal Treasury. To me, it is a win-win for taxpayers and it is a good aspect for jobs. As I said, it is 205,000 export-related jobs and $37 billion in exports. That supports over 2,000 small businesses throughout our country. That is actually the direct impact of businesses that are exporting with the help of the Export-Import Bank. I say that because there are so many more people who are involved in the supply chain, and we talked about that last week.

I would like to address one issue today that I hear about from a lot of colleagues: Well, isn't this just something the private sector can do?

I guarantee you, if the private sector could just do it and would do it, we would be very happy. I am here to debunk that myth. In fact, in the words of the private sector, it is all about them needing the help of the bank to actually make deals work. Anyone who thinks they know what they are talking about, I want to make sure they understand.

First and foremost, in the bank's charter, it prohibits them from competing with private financing and requires that all financing have a reasonable chance of repayment. So literally in the bank's charter it says they are not there to compete with these banks. Yet I hear so many times my colleagues on the other side trying to say: Oh, well, this is just something that we, the government, should not be involved in.

I just pointed out that we actually make money off of it. So that part is really good for us because it helps us pay down the Federal deficit. And I just mentioned how banks want to partnership with this credit agency because it helps them, but it is actually in their charter that it prohibits them from doing so. Specifically, the charter says, in section 2, that the bank should ``supplement and encourage, and not compete with, private capital''--``not compete with, private capital.'' So there it is in their own charter, exactly how they are supposed to operate. So this is not a bank that is somehow competing with banks across America. They are partnering with financial institutions that see risks in overseas markets that they think are undeveloped and do not have the banking and financing institutions in their organization to help get these things done, and so they want to partner with the Export-Import Bank.

It is helping businesses all across our country. In fact, 98 percent of the Export-Import Bank's transactions were involved with banks throughout 2013. So it is not taking business away from them; it is actually helping businesses throughout our country.

The Export-Import Bank is a leading indicator for U.S. companies in how to get business done in these developing markets, and it is often in the national and local banking interest to have a partner such as this because they see deals and opportunities that come through their local communities.

I know there are banks--the Presiding Officer's major banks in parts of the Midwest, KeyBank--and others have talked to me about how important it is because they have homegrown businesses that come to them, and they see the opportunity but they also see the risk, and having this credit agency be a partner with that local bank helps them secure the deal.

As we look at this chart, it basically shows that 98 percent of the Ex-Im Bank transactions are involving commercial banks. So, again, there is this notion that somehow this bank is competing with the private sector when, in fact, it is basically prohibited in their charter, and 98 percent of the deals are actually done with an individual bank, which shows that this is really a tool for our commercial banking.

So these are banks everywhere, from the Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank in Anchorage, to the Wallis State Bank in Texas, as well as national banks such as Wells Fargo and others. So they find it a very viable tool and something that is important to do.

According to a recent statement by the Bankers Association for Finance and Trade and the Financial Services Roundtable, the Export-Import Bank of the United States plays a critical role ``in international trade and US job creation by providing export financing products that help fill gaps in trade financing otherwise not provided by the private sector.''

So we are hearing from these individual banks that are saying this and basically articulating that this is a tool. In fact, one CEO, John Stumpf from Wells Fargo, recently talked about his work with a company called Air Tractor. Air Tractor is a Texas company that manufactures agricultural aircraft, with 50 percent of its business being overseas. He said how important it was that the Export-Import--I am going to quote him: Air Tractor would not be where they are today without the Export-Import Bank and there are certain things that would not have been done without them.

I want to go back to the fact that the banking industry really does believe the Export-Import Bank is a necessary tool. ``The Ex-Im Bank remains a vital partner for the lending community,'' according to the bankers association.

I think this shows there are people who are just not educated on the structure of the bank, how it works, how important it is to be an important tool for us. I want to make sure we understand why the private sector cannot do these loans.

If people understand how the bank works, some still want to come back and say: Well, they still should be doing it themselves.

I want to go to one chart that basically shows some of the challenges bankers face when they are dealing with this. They face bank balance sheet limitations; that is, the ability to hold all of those deals on their books over the period of the loan. They have the added risk of exporting to foreign markets, which can be challenging at best. And they have the lack of the financial sector presence in those emerging markets.

So as to all of those things, if you are, as I just mentioned, one of these banks--from the Wallis State Bank in Texas to the Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank--you can see that they want to help this business in their State export or like this company I mentioned--Air Tractor in Texas that manufactures aircraft for agricultural purposes. You can see they want to help them. But, again, is the Wallis State Bank going to be able to go out and assess all these international marketplaces and assess whether that end customer is going to be able to continue to pay on the life of this purchase? No. This bank is not figuring out how to do that. So basically they are just turning this business down. Yet we have a U.S. manufacturer that has figured out a great product, figured out how to make it, figured out how to get customers overseas, figured out how to compete with international competitors, and we have people here strangling the one tool they need--the credit agency that helps the local bank in their community finance the deal.

So I just want to say I hope we resolve this issue with the Export-Import Bank. I hope our colleagues on both sides of the aisle can come to terms with the amendments that are necessary to move this bill to the Senate floor. I know last time we had a similar debate and a lot of discussion, but in the end there were about 79 votes for the Export-Import Bank.

I guess I would ask all of my colleagues now to think about our economy and how much U.S. manufacturers need to sell in overseas markets. We are having an unbelievable growth in the middle class around the globe. It is going to double in the next 15 years. That is 2.7 billion more middle-class consumers who could buy U.S. products and U.S. services, but they will not if we hamstring the export-import credit agencies that help support banks in the financing of U.S. manufacturers' goods sold overseas.

I hope my colleagues will help us get this bill to the floor, get it reauthorized, and not for a short term, not for 3 months, not for more mischief to be had, but to give predictability and certainty to people who are actually growing jobs in the United States of America, our manufacturers.

UNANIMOUS CONSENT AGREEMENT EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the confirmation votes on Mendez, Rogoff, and Andrews occur following the vote to confirm the Disbrow nomination, and with all other provisions of the previous order remaining in effect.

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