Mr. President, I rise to speak today on another topic, and that is the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. Senator Cantwell is going to be here shortly, and I thank her for her strong leadership. We will also be hearing at some point from Senator McCaskill and Senator Heitkamp. This has been a bipartisan effort. I thank the other Senators who have joined in this fight--Senator Graham and Senator Kirk.
The reason I am here today is to say that America needs to be a country that exports, a country that thinks, that invents, that builds things, and that exports to the world. 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 simply can't afford to pass this up.
We know there are about 85 credit export agencies in over 60 other countries. So all of these other countries, over 60 countries--major developed nations--have an Ex-Im type bank. Our businesses in the United States are competing against companies in those countries, so when they are bidding against each other for a contract, the companies in the other countries can say: Well, I may not be a huge business, I am a small business, but I know I can get financing from my country's bank--whether they are in Germany or whether they are in China.
Do you know what our companies have to say right now? Well, the Ex-Im Bank's charter has lapsed. We can't get financing. And if you don't think their competitors know this--their competitors know it. We have already heard that they have lost contracts because of this shortsightedness of letting the Ex-Im Bank lapse. So they are competing against these foreign businesses that are backed by other countries' credit export programs, and they often also receive government subsidies. So why, I ask, would we want to make it harder for our own companies to compete across the globe and create jobs right here at home?
In 2014, the Ex-Im Bank provided support for $27 billion worth of U.S. exports. That sounds like a lot, but in the same year--are you ready for this?--China financed more than double that amount, $58 billion. So their Ex-Im type bank financed $58 billion, ours only did $27 billion, and now we are not doing anything. South Korea and Germany have already provided more support for their exports than we have in the United States of America.
So if we don't get this done and reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, countries like China are going to eat our lunch. That is why I am urging my colleagues to include the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank in the spending bills we must pass to keep the government open and running. If we want to level the playing field for our businesses, we need to have the U.S. Ex-Im Bank open and running too. This is about jobs.
In June I led a meeting of the Steering and Outreach Committee on the importance of the Ex-Im Bank. Several of my colleagues were at that meeting, too, and I will tell you what we heard. We heard from small business owners from all over the country. They did not mince words. Frankly, they were furious and frustrated after watching some Members of Congress throw up roadblock after roadblock and refuse to do the commonsense thing--reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank. These small business owners, like the many small business owners I have met in my State, told me the Ex-Im Bank is essential for their ability to export.
Many of these smaller businesses don't have an expert on every country in the world. They rely on the Ex-Im Bank to help them with that expertise, to get the financing. And what do they get now? This is what they get. This is what is on the Web site right now of the Ex-Im Bank: “Due to a lapse in EXIM Bank's authority, as of July 1, 2015, the Bank is unable to process applications or engage in new business or other activities. For more information, please click here.”
Then you click here, and it says: “To Customers and Stakeholders of the Export-Import Bank of the United States:--This is the United States of America. It says-- Due to a lapse in our authority, as of midnight on June 30th the Export-Import Bank of the United States ceased processing new applications or engaging in new business. Last week, Congress adjourned for their August recess without reauthorizing EXIM. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives return to Washington on September 8th. This means that EXIM will focus on the management of our $107 billion portfolio . . .”
But they cannot do anything new. Guess who else is reading that. Our foreign competitors, companies and countries all over the world. They are able to show the people for whom they are bidding: Look what happens when you go to the Ex-Im type financing site in the United States. Guess what it says. It says: Sorry, we are lapsed; we can't do anything. That is what these companies from other countries are seeing.
We heard from Boyle Energy Services in New Hampshire, Air Tractor in Texas, the Orbital Sciences Corporation in Virginia, and FirmGreen in California. Most were headed up by Republican CEOs. They all said the same thing--that Ex-Im Bank has been critical in building their businesses and supporting their ability to export all over the world. Many of them told us they would lose business, not be able to enter into contracts, and may even have to lay off workers if they lose the support of the Ex-Im Bank. And now it is not just the possibility of having to lay off workers; that is actually happening in our country due to this problem with the Ex-Im Bank.
At the end of June when the Ex-Im Bank expired, there were nearly 200 transactions totaling over $9 billion in financing pending. Letting the Ex-Im Bank's charter lapse meant lost contracts and layoffs. It means European and Chinese workers will be doing the jobs Americans are now doing.
My colleagues, I don't think we can wait any longer. I will put in the Record the evidence from my own State and what it has meant in my own State.
Every year I visit all 87 counties in Minnesota and I meet with all kinds of small business owners. One thing that I find over and over is that these small businesses are exporting and many are using the Ex-Im Bank to provide them with the expertise they need to enter new markets all over the world and the vital loans, loan guarantees or credit insurance they need to access these markets.
The list of Minnesota companies that have told me of their strong support for the Ex-Im Bank is long. Let me share a few examples. I have met with the people at Balzer--an agricultural equipment manufacturer based in Mountain Lake--a town of 2,000. They told me that they have grown their exports to about 15 percent of total sales with the help of the Ex-Im Bank. They export from Canada to Kazakhstan--from Japan to Australia--and now South Africa too. With the help of the Ex-Im Bank, Superior Industries in Morris has been able to export to Canada, Australia, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil.
I have heard from the Trade Acceptance Group in Edina which provides credit insurance to businesses that export. They rely on the Ex-Im Bank. I heard from Fastenal and Miller Ingenuity, both from Winona. They told me how the Ex-Im Bank helped them reach new markets in Mexico, Indonesia, and Africa. And the list goes on.
The Ex-Im Bank was helping these small businesses from all over Minnesota and all over the country compete and export globally. These are success stories and we need more of them. There are success stories like this in every State. And these are the stories we want to hear--not stories about losing jobs and business opportunities to Europe and China.
I have given speeches on this before. We cannot wait any longer. We need to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank now.
I will end with this, as I see Senator Cantwell, our great leader on this, is in the Chamber. The Ex-Im Bank has been reauthorized 16 times in its 81-year history, every time with broad bipartisan majorities, and Ex-Im has the support this year. The Senate has voted twice with bipartisan support to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, and over 250 House Members have cosponsored bills supporting the Ex-Im Bank.
The time is here. It is time to stop playing procedural games, get this reauthorized so our great U.S. companies no longer have to go to a Web site that says: Due to a lapse of authority, the Export-Import Bank of the United States is unable to process applications or engage in new business.
We are all about new business in this country. That is what we have always been all about. So it is time to change that Web site, and we do it by reauthorizing Ex-Im.
I yield the floor.