The Senate is set to consider an amendment by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank after the chamber, in an unusual Sunday vote, yesterday agreed 67-26 to block any attempt to filibuster the measure. Sunday’s vote to cut off debate came over the strong objections of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other chief critics of the bank.
Kirk is offering the Ex-Im reauthorization measure as an amendment to H.R.22, which will be the Senate version of comprehensive highway reauthorization legislation. Kirk and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) have sought a five-year reauthorization with increased funding for small businesses and stronger oversight.
GAMA backed the amendment, saying the bank has guaranteed more than $1.9 billion in loans for general aviation exports. “It’s huge for the entire aviation ecosystem,” GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce told AIN. With the strength of the U.S. dollar, he said exports are becoming more difficult, adding that Congress allowing the bank’s charter to expire during this time is “mind boggling. What we want is a level playing field. We don’t unilaterally disarm in defense.”
Hartzell Propeller president and GAMA chairman of the board Joe Brown agreed. “Why would we create a self-inflected wound?” Brown noted the June 30 lapse of the bank’s charter already is harming general aviation businesses. “It’s terrible,” he said. “I’m extremely concerned.” Two of Hartzell’s customers have grown through the downturn on the strength of exports thanks to Ex-Im backing, he noted, and added this lapse of the Ex-Im’s reauthorization hits the heart of their businesses.
At Hartzell, Brown said the company has been taking measures such as temporary shutdowns, reductions in overtime and other actions to prepare for the loss of business from cuts in Ex-Im coupled with a slower economy. “The prudent thing to do is assume there is downside risk,” he said.
Congress is facing a July 31 deadline to reauthorize highway legislation, but the Senate and House have a number of issues still to work through in their respective highway bills. This raises the specter of an extension. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reportedly indicated that such an extension would not include Ex-Im reauthorization. The White House, meanwhile, is making a strong push to have Ex-Im included in the highway bill. While the Senate progresses, the House remains at a stalemate on the issue.