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Biden nominates ex-State Department official as Export-Import Bank leader

The Hill logo The Hill 9/14/2021 Celine Castronuovo
a close up of a sign: Biden nominates ex-State Department official as Export-Import Bank leader © Getty Biden nominates ex-State Department official as Export-Import Bank leader

President Biden has nominated a former State Department official under the Obama administration to serve as head of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, putting her on a path to becoming the first person of color to lead the federal export credit agency.

Reta Jo Lewis, who has worked in international affairs and public policy for more than 25 years, was included among a Monday list of several other key nominations for trade and commerce roles within the Biden administration.

Lewis, who served as the first-ever special representative for global intergovernmental affairs at the State Department under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is currently a senior fellow and the director of congressional affairs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a nonpartisan think tank focused on promoting cooperation between the U.S. and Europe.

Prior to serving in the Obama White House, Lewis worked as a special assistant for political affairs for former President Bill Clinton.

After Clinton left the Oval Office, Lewis went on to work as vice president and counselor to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, making her the first African American woman to serve in the role, the White House said in its press release.

If confirmed, Lewis, 67, will lead the federal agency Republicans for years placed limitations on by refusing to approve board members, arguing that the bank, which guarantees loans to foreign buyers and provides credit insurance, is a form of corporate welfare that puts American taxpayers at risk.

However, former President Trump moved to back the agency as a way to boost the U.S. in his trade war with China, with Congress renewing the bank in 2019 and enacting measures to keep it fully operational through at least 2026.

Supporters of the bank have argued that it helps put domestic manufacturers on a level playing field with corporations across the globe, with past Export-Import Bank financing supporting large companies like Boeing and General Electric, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Biden's list of nominations Monday also included privacy hawk Alvaro Bedoya to be a Democratic commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, as well as ex-Obama administration official Maria "Marisa" Lago for under secretary of Commerce for international trade at the Department of Commerce.

Lago during the Obama administration served as the Treasury Department's assistant secretary for international markets and development, overseeing activities with the World Bank and regional development organizations.

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