After the Senate voted to revive the federal Export-Import Bank, a key source of loans for smaller U.S. companies that do business abroad, the fate of the agency now moves to a potential House showdown.
The bank's authorization expired June 30, halting all new loan guarantees and other assistance to foreign customers seeking to purchase goods from American companies. The agency continues to service existing loans.
While usually not known among the general public, the government-backed financial institution—known as the Ex-Im bank for short—makes and guarantees loans. The Ex-Im bank also offers insurance to American companies so they can do business overseas.
Susan Axelrod, a Long Island, New York, housewife began making quiches in her home kitchen in 1973, and expanded her company, Love & Quiches Gourmet, in part by exporting her products to places such as Qatar and Japan. She told CNBC last month she has been able to reach overseas markets thanks to the Ex-Im bank.
If the bank's charter is not reauthorized, "the U.S. is going to lose our exporting power," Axelrod said. "China and other exporting countries are chomping at the bit to take that business." She said as much as 30 percent of her business comes from international markets.
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has called renewing the Ex-Im bank's charter a "no brainer," while visiting with small business exporters at the White House last week.
Congress has failed to renew its charter, partly due to disagreement over who receives funding from the bank. The financial institution did $20.5 billion in financing in 2014, including $5 billion in financing and insurance for small businesses, which make up $27 billion in U.S. exports and 164,000 American jobs. The remaining $15.5 billion goes toward other sources including financing for big corporations—a key source of contention among bank critics.