This vote was on an amendment that would have limited the number of projects that can be financed by a federal agency that helps American companies sell their products in markets overseas.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill that would extend the life of the Export-Import Bank, a federal agency designed to help support U.S. export jobs by financing foreign purchases of American goods and services. Sen. Corker’s amendment would have barred the Export-Import Bank from financing projects for companies that could not prove they had tried – and failed – to obtain a loan from a private bank. Sen. Corker’s amendment also would have established “capital requirements” requiring the bank to have $1 in hand for every $10 it distributes in loans.
Sen. Corker argued that these limits would help safeguard the financial health of the Export-Import Bank. The Bank should not be issuing loans unless a company has no options in the private market, he said. He also argued that the financial crisis of 2008 had provided a very clear lesson that banks should not overextend themselves by lending far more money than they can afford to write off if lenders default.
“The [Export-Import] Bank, believe it or not, is set up to finance things that no other bank will finance, and yet it has no capital requirements other than having to maintain $1 billion,” Sen. Corker said. “We don't want to see the same happen with [Export-Import] Bank that we have seen happen with Fannie, with Freddie, with so many of our institutions in this country that did not have proper capital reserves.”
Opponents of Sen. Corker’s amendment argued that it would needlessly hamstring the Export-Import Bank’s efforts to help U.S. businesses sell their goods overseas. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) argued that the capital requirement was unnecessary because only about 1.5 percent of Export-Import Bank loan recipients fail to pay back what they owe. In addition, the amendment’s call for loans to go only to companies that prove they can’t obtain private financing is unworkable, opponents said.
“One part of this amendment is that you can't make a loan under the Export-Import Bank until the company proves that the other countries in question are not offering loans in that area. That is pretty hard to do when countries such as China are not very transparent,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said.
Sen. Corker’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 36-62. Voting “yea” were 36 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 52 Democrats and 10 Republicans. As a result, the Senate defeated the amendment that would have limited the number of projects that can be financed by the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a federal agency that helps American companies sell their products in markets overseas.