BY MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA
Sen. Chris Murphy toured a factory in Bristol on Friday and called on congressional colleagues to reauthorize the recently controversial Export-Import Bank.
Murphy, a Democrat, said that, if necessary, he will move for a temporary re-authorization of the bank, but that he prefers a long-term agreement in order to insure that the bank can make long-term deals and commitments. Some Republicans, particularly in the House, have challenged the bank’s purpose and appear poised to oppose re-authorization.
The Ex-Im bank provides financing to support international transactions involving American businesses. The bank has come under fire for its support of major corporations, such as Boeing Inc., which has received financing assistance to sell planes to foreign carriers, angering at least one American airline, Delta. But proponents of the bank point out that the majority of the bank’s transactions — though not necessarily the majority of its funds — involve small businesses.
In a press conference call before touring Bauer Inc., a Bristol company that manufactures aircraft parts, Murphy said that the Em-Im bank is good for Connecticut businesses.
“The benefit doesn’t just flow to GE and Sikorsky,” Murphy said. “Sikorsky has a network of hundreds of suppliers all throughout the state who benefit from that financing as well.”
While some have argued that economic theory does not support the mission of the Ex-Im bank — these people claim that the bank simply finances projects that the private sector would probably support otherwise — Murphy tried to give the issue more context.
“We need to live in the real world, and the real world involves all of our competitors offering similar types of financing and guarantees,” he said. “The reality is the advantage that the Ex-Im bank gives in providing relatively low rates of finance is necessary because the same advantage is available to our competitors.”
Penny Pritzker, the federal commerce secretary, was also on the call. She said that the Ex-Im bank gives small businesses a chance when the private sector may not.
“If I’m a small business dealing with a more local or regionalized bank, it’s very difficult for that loan office to get their arms around the credit risk that they’re taking,” she said. “[The Ex-Im bank] is a really critical piece of the financing chain.”