| House Votes to Prevent Ex-Im Bank from Financing Exports of Nuclear Equipment to China|
On 28 June, the House of Representatives approved an appropriations bill (HR 3057) to fund foreign operations, export financing, and related programmes for fiscal year 2006. The legislation includes an amendment proposed by Representative Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont), and approved by a vote of 313 to 114, that would prevent the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) from funding the export of certain nuclear equipment to China. Specifically, the amendment is intended to block a request by Westinghouse Electric Company for a combination of guaranteed and/or direct loans of up to nearly US$5 billion to finance exports of Westinghouse's AP 1000 1000-megawatt pressurised water reactors. These reactors would be used in the construction of four nuclear facilities in China.
Among other things, Sanders argued that it would be absurd for the Ex-Im Bank to finance a business transaction for a US subsidiary of a British company wholly-owned by the British government, especially in the midst of a record deficit. Sanders also questioned whether the best interest of the United States would be served by selling advanced nuclear technology to China. Conversely, Representative Jim Kolbe (Republican-Arizona) contended that the financing commitment would create approximately 5,000 jobs in the US at Westinghouse and its US suppliers, and he warned that without these funds Westinghouse would not be able to compete with French and Russian companies to develop China's nuclear energy capabilities.
HR 3057 still needs to be approved by the Senate and signed by the President for the amendment to enter into force.