The Commerce Department reports Connecticut exports reached a record $10.5 billion last year -- 30th in the nation. But the state’s U.S. senators warn that Congress’s inaction on the federal agency known as the Export-Import Bank could be putting some of that business at risk.
The bank guarantees loans to foreign customers who purchase from U.S. companies. But its authority expired the first of the month, and without it, Senator Chris Murphy said $4 billion in contracts involving Connecticut companies are at risk.
“There’s a mythology that the Ex-Im Bank is just government welfare for big companies like Boeing and GE. And while it does support a lot of those companies in their sales to foreign markets, 90 percent of the Ex-Im Bank’s business is with small businesses, and the GEs and the Boeings of the world have lots of suppliers,” Murphy said.
And Murphy said it doesn’t actually cost the government anything.
“It doesn’t actually spend money that doesn’t get returned. The default rate for the Ex-Im Bank is decimal points on a percentage. That’s why it makes about a billion dollars a year for the federal treasury, for taxpayers," he said.
Murphy said the problem is a political one, not a financial one.
“Because there’s a fight within the Republican party between moderate Republicans who support the bank and the Tea Party that opposes it, the Republican leadership is refusing to bring it up for a vote," Murphy said.
Murphy and Senator Richard Blumenthal met with workers at B & F Machine Company in New Britain, who make parts for GE engines.