U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was at General Electric in Schenectady this afternoon calling on fellow lawmakers to keep the Export-Import Bank intact.
It's called the Ex-Im bank for short. Schumer says the program helps support thousands of jobs and generates more than a billion dollars in sales for companies across the Capital Region by providing financing to foreign companies to help them purchase U.S. goods. Senator Schumer said "I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't in real danger. Because in the way Washington works, if a small number of people are opposed, they can bollocks up the whole works. And here, at this plant, the number of people who are employed have gone up from a low of 3,000 to 4,500. We want to keep increasing it."
In a statement, GE says the Export-Import Bank reauthorization has a direct impact on its business, adding that “a significant percentage of our heavy duty gas turbines and distributed power (gas) turbines are exported from the US. Exports are driving investment…including $218 million in recent plant investments in Greenville, and creating manufacturing jobs.”
Schumer, a New York Democrat, added that a variety of local sub-contractors benefit from the Ex-Im bank indirectly because it helps fund GE. "The Ex-Im bank is crucial to us continuing to grow good-paying manufacturing jobs here in upstate New York. Now, all of a sudden there are some people who want to cut it. It's not that they want to do it for deficit purposes, because the Ex-Im bank doesn't even give money to these companies. It simply gives a loan guarantee to the companies buying and the rate of repayment is so high that the federal government hasn't lost any money. They actually make money on the Ex-Im bank. The reason some people, a small narrow group are opposing this, is sort of their ideology. They don't believe the government should be involved in anything. The same people who don't want the government to fund highway programs, cancer research at the NIH, help middle-class families get loans and grants to help their kids pay for college."
Funding for the bank is set to expire in September. Schumer is calling on Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate to come together. "...and just renew the Export-Import bank, which we've done in the past without controversy for over 80 years. Schenectady depends on it. The Capital Region depends on it. And good jobs and good paying jobs in upstate New York depend on it."
Schumer added that business owners he's spoken with are amazed that there's even talk letting the Ex-Im expire. In Fiscal Year 2013, the Ex-Im bank supported $37.4 billion in American exports: small business accounted for 90 percent of the bank's transactions.