This vote was on an amendment that would have limited the amount of financing the federal government could provide to help promote American exports.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) 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. Toomey’s amendment would have limited the amount the Bank can lend at any one time to $100 billion – unless the Obama Administration begins negotiating with other countries to end all government-run export-financing programs. Once those negotiations begin, the Bank’s lending authority would have been limited to $120 billion until the Obama Administration reached an agreement with other nations to end the programs.
Sen. Toomey argued that the Bank’s effort to subsidize U.S. exports exposes the American public to too much risk, since taxpayers would be on the hook if the loans were not paid back. He argued that the only reason to continue the Export-Import Bank is to help American businesses compete with other countries that have similar programs. Sen. Toomey said his amendment would allow the Bank to continue while giving the Obama Administration an incentive to push for an end to all programs that subsidize exports.
“I think this is a very sensible way to deal with the only compelling argument I have heard in favor of forcing taxpayers to continue to take this risk: that is, ‘Well, everyone does it, so we must,’” Sen. Toomey said. “Since that is the only reason, then let's start the process of persuading everyone else not to do it.”
Opponents of Sen. Toomey’s amendment disputed the argument that the Export-Import Bank offers only risk to taxpayers. The Bank’s financing supports American jobs and returns a profit to the U.S. Treasury, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said. It also allows American goods to compete in the international market, she said.
“I am not one of those who basically says, ‘Oh, we should do it because other countries do it,’” Sen. Cantwell said. “I am saying you should recognize that is going on, but that the United States needs to understand there is a global marketplace for its products. If you believe in U.S. manufacturers, as I do – and I have seen them in my state – they are winning the day in producing products and services that can beat the competition in international marketplaces. They can.”
Sen. Toomey’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 35-63. Voting “yea” were 35 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 52 Democrats and 11 Republicans. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to limit the amount of financing the federal government could provide to help promote American exports.