(Adds details on signatories and opponents, background)
WASHINGTON, March 25 (Reuters) - U.S. business groups on Wednesday pushed lawmakers to approve a long-term extension for the U.S. Export-Import Bank, keeping up the pressure to defy conservatives who want the bank to shut.
Closing the bank, which will shut on June 30 if its mandate is not renewed, would hurt exports, said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, National Foreign Trade Council, National Association of Manufacturers and 10 other industry associations including those representing small business, aerospace, financial services, nuclear energy and engineering companies.
“The undersigned organizations urge the U.S. House of Representatives to provide certainty in the market and protect American jobs by passing a long-term Ex-Im reauthorization as expeditiously as possible,” said the letter, seen by Reuters.
“We are reaching a critical juncture in this debate, and business owners across the country cannot afford to continue with this sense of uncertainty any longer.”
Businesses have complained about losing contracts or being unable to bid for work because they did not have financial backing for deals lined up, in contrast to overseas competitors.
The letter shows the wide range of business groups lobbying Congress to extend the export credit agency’s mandate. They are opposed by conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America, which argue Ex-Im favors special interests and provides corporate welfare.
Ex-Im provides backing for U.S. exporters as well as to foreign buyers of U.S. goods, such as Boeing Co planes.
Bills supporting Ex-Im introduced in the House of Representatives have backing from more than half that chamber’s lawmakers, but face opposition from Jeb Hensarling, a Republican who chairs the House committee responsible for the bank and is influential in determining which bills come up for a vote.
Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Andrea Ricci