States Seek Help With Exports

Congress this week is expected to approve legislation that many states say will help boost exports and create jobs.

State leaders of both parties have pressed Congress to renew the U.S. Export-Import Bank, an independent agency that provides credit to U.S. businesses seeking markets abroad that are typically too expensive or risky for the private sector to back.

The Export-Import Bank would have more money to help U.S. businesses compete in the global market under a measure that the U.S. House approved earlier this month and the U.S. Senate was slated to begin considering as early as yesterday (May 14).

If Congress didn't act by the end of the month, the bank would have already reached it $100 billion lending cap. The measure also would increase that limit to $120 billion this year, increasing to $140 billion by the end of fiscal 2014.

“The Export-Import Bank is a vital tool in providing financing assistance for American businesses so that they may thrive in the global market,” wrote Connecticut Senator Gary LeBeau and Alaska Representative Anna Fairclough wrote on behalf of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

A bipartisan group of governors, including Republican Jan Brewer of Arizona and Democrat Jerry Brown of California, also urged Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, Bloomberg reported.

Other supporters of the bank, including the National Association of Manufacturers, say the bank helps level the playing field for U.S. firms wanting to export since many other foreign governments give billions of dollars of more financing to their exporters.

The bank, which in past years has enjoyed bipartisan support, drew criticism from some Republicans and groups that want smaller government. This included Club for Growth, which said the vote in the House provided a “great contrast between `pro-business' lawmakers (who support subsidies and bailouts) and `pro-free market' lawmakers (who oppose subsidies and bailouts).

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