WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Wednesday confirmed a trio of nominees to the Export-Import Bank, reviving a U.S. agency that provides loans and other help to foreign buyers of U.S. exports.
Confirmation of the nominees, including Republican Kimberly Reed as board president, restores a quorum and permits the bank to process larger transactions to help companies like Boeing and others with export deals.
Congress reauthorized the agency in 2015, but GOP opponents of the bank prevented both President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama from populating its board, which must approve deals exceeding $10 million. Almost $40 billion in pending deals has been held up while the bank languished without a quorum.
It has many GOP critics who say it distorts markets and that too much of its help benefits large corporations like Boeing. Some U.S. businesses, including airlines, say the bank effectively subsidizes foreign competitors.
Supporters of the board, including most Democrats and the GOP's establishment wing, say foreign governments unfairly subsidize domestic companies and that the bank helps level the playing field.
"China has multiple, massive export credit agencies, and we need a fully functioning Export-Import Bank to help American exporters compete globally," said top Banking Committee Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
The bank's charter expires at the end of September, so further action by lawmakers is required or it will shut down again.