The president and board chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States was in Arizona Thursday to speak with state business leaders about the important role the bank plays in supporting U.S. jobs and trade.
“The Export-Import Bank has been around for more than 80 years,” said Kimberly A. Reed, president and chairman of EXIM. “We were created by Congress to help fill a special gap as the lender of last resort when our U.S. businesses want to export abroad but the foreign purchaser is unable to get financing from a private-sector source.”
Reed was confirmed as the head of EXIM in May after a more than two-year confirmation process, partly as a result of her endorsement by President Donald Trump earlier this year.
“I quit my job working on food and [agriculture] to be the nominee, and I was very pleased by the end of two-and-a-half years to get voted through the Senate with a vote of 79 to 17,” Reed said in a roundtable discussion at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “I think that is excellent, because most of President Trump’s nominees get by just barely. I think that speaks loudly about how Congress feels about EXIM.”
Reed is the first woman to chair the federal agency — the first and only official export credit agency of the U.S. government — as well as the first EXIM chair to hail from West Virginia.
Reed said Trump was vital in her appointment as president and chair and that he urged opposing senators to let her confirmation go to a vote before pushing her confirmation through in less than a day. Under normal circumstances, it takes about two weeks to complete the necessary paperwork once a nominee is confirmed.
“[Trump negotiated] my confirmation, and had that moment not happened, I would not be sitting here today,” Reed said. “He should be thinking about USMCA and other things, but he wants this bank up and running.”
EXIM’s mission is to create and support U.S. jobs, but the bank relies on congressional authorization to continue engaging in new business. Authorization lapsed in July 2015 but was reauthorized five months later — that latest authorization expires at the end of September.
Reed said Congress is addressing EXIM’s reauthorization, which has support from Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Martha McSally (R-AZ), but the agency’s expiration date looms closer.
“They (Sinema and McSally) both voted in favor of my nomination to head the bank, but they also are big advocates for the reauthorization of the bank, and I would say the same as well for the congressional delegation here in Arizona,” Reed said in an interview.
Sen. Sinema is the lead sponsor of legislation to reauthorize the bank for 10 years. The bank’s current authorization expires September 30.
Sen. Sinema joined Chairman Reed for a tour of Copper State Bolt & Nut Co. in Phoenix on Wednesday to discuss the importance of the bank’s reauthorization.
“Renewing the Export-Import Bank will provide certainty to Arizona businesses like Copper State Bolt and Nut and ensure our manufacturers can compete and win on a level playing field with foreign companies,” Sinema said.
Now, Reed is hoping small and large businesses, elected officials and commerce organizations nationwide will speak out in support of EXIM to ensure that happens.
“I look forward to working with Congress,” Reed said. “I know Congress needs the input, as well, of all the businesses around the country, of what we can be doing better, or what we’re doing great, as we look to the next tenure of the bank and making a difference for U.S. workers.”