The U.S. Export-Import Bank once again has the ability to back deals of more than $10 million — for the first time since 2015 — after the Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Trump’s three nominees.
Senators confirmed Kimberly Reed for president of the bank, and former Rep. Spencer Bachus and Judith DelZoppo Pryor to the board of directors, providing the quorum needed to approve large deals.
The nominees were confirmed despite objections from conservative Republicans who say the bank provides corporate welfare for wealthy manufacturing and aerospace companies.
The Ex-Im Bank says it has almost $40 billion in pending transactions awaiting consideration by the board, which would support an estimated 230,000 jobs. Created during the Great Depression, the bank helps foreign companies buy U.S. products when private banks won’t provide independent financing.
“Ex-Im has operated to benefit the wealthiest and the most politically connected businesses in America, as well as their overseas clients,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “It’s no coincidence that Ex-Im has been nicknamed Boeing’s bank when Ex-Im financing was at its peak.”
The Ex-Im Bank’s biggest beneficiaries include manufacturing and aerospace companies such as Boeing and General Electric Co., and big banks, like JPMorgan Chase & Co., that help finance deals.
The bank was nearly killed off during President Obama’s administration. Congress allowed its charter to expire for about six months in 2015, but even after lawmakers reauthorized the bank, most of the five spots on its board remained vacant, meaning it couldn’t approve large deals.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), long a critic of the bank, had blocked nominees to the its board while he was chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. He is now Appropriations Committee chairman.