House reauthorizes Export-Import Bank, raises credit limit

May 10, 2012

, Bizjournals

The House voted 330-93 today to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and increase the federal agency’s credit exposure limit.

The Senate is expected to follow suit, sending the legislation to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Ex-Im Bank provides financing to U.S. exporters to help them sell their products overseas. In the past, reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank was a routine manner, but this year, some conservatives tried to kill the agency. They contended government involvement in export financing distorts markets and favors some companies over others. Delta Air Lines complained that it had lost market share on international routes to Air India, which used Ex-Im financing to buy airplanes from Boeing, a major user of the agency’s programs.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Ex-Im’s current authorization expires May 31, and the agency is close to hitting its current credit exposure limit of $100 billion. Once that limit is reached, Ex-Im can’t guarantee any more loans. The three-year authorization bill passed by the House raises that credit limit to $120 billion, and then phases it up to $140 billion by 2014.

In the end, the real-world needs of U.S. exporters won out over ideological concerns, even for conservatives like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

“Make no mistake, I am not a fan of government subsidies,” Cantor said on the House floor before today’s vote.

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