Merkley urges Senate panel to confirm EXIM Bank nominee


Sen. Jeff Merkley , D-Ore., called on Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Richard Shelby on Thursday to act on strong bipartisan support for the Export-Import Bank by confirming the EXIM Bank Board of Directors nominee to restore the operating quorum.

Small businesses across America, including 67 in Oregon, rely on the EXIM Bank to finance deals in foreign markets where there are growing economic opportunities.

If the Senate Banking Committee continues to fail to move on EXIM nominees, these small businesses will miss out on crucial growth opportunities and lose hard earned revenues, the senator said in his letter.

In order to help keep Oregon businesses strong, Merkley encouraged the Committee to act on President Obama’s nominee Mark McWatters to serve on the EXIM Board of Directors and form a fully functioning export credit agency.

“We cannot allow the EXIM Board’s to languish without a quorum. Otherwise, businesses that benefit from EXIM will be forced to continue to losing contracts to foreign competitors resulting is lost revenues and jobs,” Merkley said.

“The Senate must move to quickly confirm a nominee to at least one of the three remaining vacancies or risk missing opportunities for growth for small, medium, and large U.S. companies,” he added.

The EXIM Bank has been particularly supportive of Oregon jobs and small businesses, enabling Oregon’s hardworking companies to more easily export billions of dollars of goods around the world.

Over the past nine years, in Oregon alone, the EXIM Bank has supported 88 companies (including 67 small businesses), created 6,400 new jobs, and spurred $1 billion in exports.

Without a fully functioning EXIM Bank, American businesses like these 88 Oregon companies are put at a competitive disadvantage with foreign competitors who are offered similar services in their markets, Merkley said

As the Banking Committee stalls on the EXIM Bank Board nomination process, only two of the five seats on the board are currently filled. The quorum requires three of five seats to approve loan guarantees and other financing tools valued in excess of $10 million for medium- and long-term transactions.

Without the quorum, the EXIM Bank cannot operate at full capacity to support the small businesses that desperately need its help, Merkley said.

“The Export-Import Bank is an important resource that allows Bulk Handling Systems to compete in equal terms against our competitors in other countries who have similar programs,” said Eugene-based Bulk Handling Systems CEO Steve Miller. “Since EXIM’s reauthorization, Congress has not done the work to fill out the current board. We would encourage them to complete the board that so we can take full advantage of this important program.”

“Bob’s Red Mill relies on the EX-IM Bank to support our international growth by allowing us to provide competitive terms for our export customers,” said Milwaukie, Oregon-based Bob’s Red Mill CFO Trey Winthrop. “We also appreciate how easy it is to set up new customers and change credit terms.”

“The EXIM bank credit insurance policies have been critical to our success in shipping US produced forest products to foreign markets,” said Portland-based Concannon Corporation co-founder Bryan Concannon. “The jobs created by these sales are real and some were lost during the period where coverage was not available.  Anyone that is concerned about good middle class jobs should support the EXIM bank.”