As the end of the year approaches, Congress faces many important issues, and among the most pressing is the long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank. The EXIM Bank helps create and protect American jobs, and bolsters our national security. Leaders in Congress should prioritize the Bank’s reauthorization before it expires on November 21, 2019. 

Although many Americans may not be familiar with the EXIM Bank, it is one of the most important tools U.S. businesses have to compete and win in the global marketplace. The Bank supports U.S. businesses of all sizes by financing their exports of American-made goods and services to customers around the world. By helping American companies sell their products in more global markets, the EXIM Bank allows those same businesses to hire more workers here at home and boost economic growth in our communities. 

As members of the Senate Banking Committee, we have seen firsthand how the EXIM Bank specifically supports small businesses and jobs in our respective states. We’ve heard from workers and business owners in North Dakota and Arizona about how the EXIM Bank helps U.S. employers compete and win in challenging markets abroad. Without the financial backing of the EXIM Bank, businesses like Copper State Bolt and Nut in Phoenix wouldn’t be able to compete with foreign businesses. The EXIM Bank has provided Copper State with over $1.1 million in export value—helping the business support good paying Arizona jobs and complete shipments around the world. The same is true of North Dakota’s WCCO Belting. With more than half of the company’s revenue coming from customers outside the United States, the EXIM Bank helps them stay competitive worldwide.

The EXIM Bank levels the playing field for American businesses, setting the stage for those employers to win deals and grow. In total, the EXIM Bank has supported nearly 2 million American jobs and provided financing for thousands of American-owned and operated small businesses.

Supporting the EXIM Bank is also about our nation’s national security. Foreign countries like China are using their own export credit agencies in record numbers. If we allow foreign competitors to increase influence in emerging markets, those competitors will strengthen their grip in areas of geopolitical importance to the United States like Africa and Latin America. As we lose these markets to China and Russia, we also cede our competitive edge in technology development and manufacturing. Taking away the EXIM Bank needlessly gives an advantage to our foreign competitors.

Critics claim the EXIM Bank isn’t necessary, but without the Bank we could head down a dangerous path. Letting the Bank’s charter expire creates uncertainty among American businesses who depend on its support. Such a lapse would undermine economic confidence and add another impediment to growth and job creation at home. At the same time, other countries are racing ahead to give their own companies a leg up in the global market. We shouldn’t unilaterally disarm American businesses while other countries are doubling down.

There is strong bipartisan support for the EXIM Bank. We recently introduced legislation to reauthorize the Bank for 10 years. Our bill gives American businesses the long-term certainty and financial backing they need to succeed, while ensuring our foreign adversaries cannot create a lasting competitive advantage.

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have already joined our efforts, and we hope more will join in the coming weeks. The time to act on the EXIM Bank is now. It’s a win-win for American jobs and American national security.

Kevin Cramer is a Republican U.S. Senator from North Dakota, and Kyrsten Sinema is a Democratic U.S. Senator from Arizona.