Extending the life of a federal agency that makes money for taxpayers and helps companies create and maintain jobs in the United States shouldn't be the least bit controversial. But in Washington these days, controversy is constant.
So legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States before its charter expires May 31 had a bumpy ride before winning approval Wednesday in the House of Representatives. It deserves an easier trip through the Senate.
The bank, founded in 1934, currently receives no tax dollars. It makes enough in interest and fees on the loans and loan guarantees it provides for U.S. businesses and their foreign customers to cover its operating expenses and fund reserves to cover losses. And it has generated $1.9 billion beyond that since 2008 -- money that went into the U.S. Treasury.
The bank has assisted 5,716 U.S. companies since 2007, most of them small businesses, including 220 in New York, said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), ranking member on the House subcommittee responsible for the legislation.
The 93 House Republicans who opposed reauthorization said the bank's efforts to facilitate overseas sales for U.S. companies distort the free market. That's absurd. The market isn't free. Many other nations have similar agencies, so shutting ours would leave U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage.
The bank is good for the economy and a good deal for taxpayers.