02/06/2014 07:20 pm ET Updated Apr 08, 2014

Let's Get to Work on the Export-Import Bank

The bottom line is that Congress needs to focus on economic recovery, growth and jobs, but the frustrating truth is the Republican-led House continues to undermine the economy by failing to extend unemployment benefits, stifling growth with an austerity agenda and shutting down the federal government. House Republicans may have adopted an "everything but jobs" agenda, but my Democratic colleagues and I continue to push opportunities to support U.S. job creation. It is why I am helping to lead the effort in the House Financial Services Committee to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im Bank or the Bank).

The Ex-Im Bank supports and creates jobs for American workers by leveling the playing field for U.S.-based companies in global markets. In my district, which includes the Milwaukee area, the Bank supported the sale of $124 million of goods and services just in 2012. In the same year across the U.S., the Bank supported the export of $96 billion of goods and services to Mexico, India and Ireland. Over the last five years, the Bank has created or sustained 1.2 million jobs. A lot of good U.S. jobs depend on the economic activity generated by those exports.

The Ex-Im Bank serves as the official export credit agency of the United States. It achieves its objective of contributing to employment by financing U.S. exports in circumstances where alternative, private financing is unavailable. In many cases, the financing provided by the Bank permits U.S. exporters to overcome officially-sponsored export credit by foreign competitors. Simply, the Bank levels the playing field for U.S. workers and firms to compete for foreign business and customers - essentially giving increased opportunity to American businesses and employees that would otherwise not exist.

As an added benefit, the Bank is a self-sustaining entity, meaning its funding source does not rely on taxpayer money for operations. The Ex-Im Bank uses offsetting collections to fund expenses and program operations and remits any surpluses to the U.S. Treasury. In fact, since 1990, the Bank has remitted to the Treasury $4.9 billion. In other words, the Bank is reducing the national debt as it creates and supports jobs.

It is also worth noting that the operations of the Ex-Im Bank expanded through the Great Recession, providing desperately-needed financing and support to the economy in a time when every dollar and job was critical. Although the economy continues to grow, much more needs to be done. Poor and middle class Americans increasingly are seeing the "American dream" slip away from them as the disconnect between the stock market and the job market increases. While our brothers, sisters, and neighbors wonder how they will feed themselves and their families, our economic outlook remains uncertain as well. In the first week since long-term unemployment benefits expired, over $400 million had been removed from our economy. As families use their resources to make ends meet, my colleagues in Congress should come together to offer support in the way of extending unemployment benefits and creating an environment for sustainable job creation. This is why Congress needs to act immediately to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank - a demonstrated and proven job creator.

On February 6, I was joined by 25 of my Democratic colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee on a letter to the Chairman urging the Committee to direct immediate attention to reauthorizing the charter of the Ex-Im Bank, which expires in 2014. In the past, reauthorization was a bipartisan process. I see no acceptable reason why Congress cannot find bipartisan agreement this time, but the Committee must begin its work sooner rather than later. As in the past, I have confidence that the Bank will give our economy a greatly needed boost.

I am eager to formally begin the deliberation process in the House Financial Services Committee with hearings and to work with my Democratic and Republican colleagues on this important legislation. Let us put our talking points aside and work on a tangible means to improve our economy and the lives of those we represent.