Senators launch bipartisan Export-Import Bank blueprint

By Krista Hughes WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bipartisan plan to save the U.S. Export-Import Bank seeks to extend the bank’s term until 2019, increase lending to small businesses and overturn limits on coal-fired power plant projects. The bill, introduced on Thursday, seeks a balance between conservatives who want to close the export credit agency, other Republicans who want reforms, and many Democrats who prefer a longer-term mandate and an expansion of the bank’s activities. “We have been playing chicken with reauthorization for far too long, we need to get it done,” said Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, one of four Democratic and four Republican senators backing the bill. Republican Mark Kirk said the bill had brought together senators “who agree that American businesses, large and small, cannot unilaterally disarm against our global competitors.” The bill may give supporters of Ex-Im, which provides support for U.S. exporters and the buyers of U.S. goods, leverage to push ahead with extending the bank’s mandate, which currently expires on June 30.

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