There is a bank that has supported over $255 million in export sales from Maine businesses over the last 5 years, but it's in danger of exhausting its lending authority at the end of May. It doesn't need to be bailed out to continue to help Maine and our nation export products and create jobs. It simply needs Congress to pass a bill to reauthorize its authority.
And the kicker? It doesn't cost the taxpayer a dime -- it's self sustaining based on fees it collects and loan repayments. In fact, the bank actually makes money for U.S. taxpayers and has returned $4.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury since 1990.
The name of this bank is the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank), and it's the official export credit agency of the United States. Its mission is to assist in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to foreign markets.
Since it was founded in 1934, the Bank has provided assistance to more than $474 billion of U.S. exports. In Fiscal Year 2011 it supported 290,000 export-related American jobs by providing more than $32 billion in financing to more than 3,600 U.S. companies.
Unfortunately, like too many things these days, the Bank's reauthorization has been caught up in politics. That's why I joined with Republican Congressman Robert Dold of Illinois to organize a letter signed by 38 of our colleagues to House leadership urging immediate consideration of legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
In our letter, we requested that leadership support a bill that will include a higher lending limit to support further expansion of the Bank's export financing efforts and allow more American companies to receive export assistance. This is especially important as we seek to do whatever we can to accelerate our recovery and limit the amount of taxpayer money that's on the line.
Through pre-export and export financing, export credit insurance, loan guarantees, and direct loans, the Ex-Im Bank enables more firms to sell additional products abroad and create jobs here at home. The Bank's export financing is imperative to maintaining and enhancing the competitiveness of American companies. Countries like China and Germany provide far more export financing than the U.S. China has provided $145.3 billion more than the U.S. in export financing since 2007. Over the same period, Germany provided $10.6 billion more than the U.S. in medium- and long-term export credit. Even though Germany's economy is less than a quarter of the size of the U.S. economy, Berlin's export financing limit is 158% higher than the Ex-Im Bank's financing cap.
Increasing the Bank's authorization levels will allow the institution to better compete with other country's export financing and better combat illegal subsidies offered by foreign governments. At no cost to taxpayers, it ensures that American businesses, including Maine businesses throughout our state, have the export financing they need to sell their products around the world.
It's critical that House leaders act immediately to reauthorize the Bank so that our companies can compete on a level playing field. Though you may have never heard of it before, this is a bank with a goal that Americans of all political stripes can get behind.
Representative Mike Michaud