Mr. President, the other issue, which is somewhat related, as we look at preparing kids for the current economy and the century we are in, is about jobs. It is about moving our economy along. Part of that is making sure we can compete globally not only with education efforts, which is what we are doing this week, but also with financing.  There are over eighty export-import-type banks in developed nations. China's bank currently funds things at nearly four times the amount that the Unites States does. Yet we are seriously now allowing the Export-Import Bank to lapse, and I strongly support reauthorizing the Bank.

I want to thank all of those involved, including Senators Cantwell, Kirk, Heitkamp, and Graham, for their strong and impassioned leadership on this issue. I also wish to thank all of my colleagues who have spoken about the importance of this Bank.  Yesterday, a few of us met with the President and senior White House officials to discuss the importance of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. America needs to be, as I said, a country that thinks, that invents, that builds things, and that exports to nations. That means the bill we are working on this week, but it also means the financing so those businesses can keep going. 

We had a vote here, as we all know, and 65 Senators supported reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank, and in the House, 60 Republicans are cosponsoring a bill to do the same. We should get it done. We know that when 95 percent of the world's customers live outside of our borders, there is literally a world of opportunity out there for U.S. businesses. We all know that isn't just about Mexico and Canada. It is about the rest of the world, including Asia and the emerging economies in Africa. We can just go all over the world to see opportunities.  In my own State of Minnesota, the Ex-Im Bank has supported $2 billion in exports and helped over 170 companies in the last 5 years alone.

Every single year, as the Presiding Officer knows, I have been to all 87 counties in Minnesota so I am able to see firsthand these businesses. I may not be going there to talk about Ex-Im. I have rarely done that, although we have had a few Ex-Im events. I am so surprised when I go to businesses and they say: We have actually grown our exports to 15 percent or it is now 20 percent of our business, and we went to Ex-Im and got financing, and we went to the Foreign Commercial Service and got help. What we are really hurting by letting this lapse and not reauthorizing it are the small businesses.

 In my State, 170 businesses used the services of Ex-Im in the last five years. They don't have an expert on Kazakhstan. They don't have a bank down the street in a small town of 3,000 people that is able to explain to them how to get that kind of financing. They rely on the expertise of Ex-Im and, most importantly, they rely on the credit of Ex-Im.  Look at this: Balzar, in Mountain Lake, MN, population of 2,000. As the Presiding Officer knows, we don't have many mountains in Minnesota, but we have a lot of lakes. So we call it Mountain Lake. This is a small business--74 people in a town of 2,000--that has relied on Ex-Im in the past decade to help export its products. Their exports have grown to about 15 percent of their total sales. They export from Canada to Kazakhstan, from Japan to Australia. They are exporting to South Africa.

Ralco, a small animal feed manufacturer in Marshall, is a third-generation family business with distribution to over 20 countries around the world.  Superior Industries in Morris, MN, is a manufacturer of bulk material processing and handling systems. There are 5,000 people in the town, and 500 people in Morris are employed at this company. That would be 10 percent of the town. Thanks to the Ex-Im Bank, they are able to export to Canada, Australia, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil.

We know this is necessary for small businesses. We know this is important for our country to be on an even playing field. We don't want China to eat our lunch, but if we continue along this way and become the only developed Nation that doesn't have financing authority such as this, we will let them eat our lunch.

At the end of last month when the Ex-Im Bank expired, there were nearly 200 transactions totaling nearly $9 billion in financing pending, and many businesses--90 percent of which are small businesses--are no longer able to use their export credit and insurance to its full extent. I have already talked to businesses that literally have been told: When we were trying to make a deal, our competitors on the other side that were trying to make the next deal said: They are not going to get financing. That country let their Ex-Im Bank expire. Go to a business from this country. Take our business because you know we have steady financing.  This cannot continue.  This is why this is a major priority of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a major priority for small business organizations around the country, and a major priority, most importantly, for the workers that work at these companies.  It is critical to move forward.

We must reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and make sure our exporters are competing on a level playing field in this global market. We do it with education, thanks to the good work of Senator Alexander and Senator Murray, but we also do it by making sure that our businesses have the financing tools they need to succeed.  I urge my colleagues to support the Ex-Im Bank and reauthorize this critical agency as soon as possible. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.