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President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a law aimed at boosting U.S. exports, marking the second piece of bipartisan legislation that has become law this year despite the political gridlock in Washington.
"I hope this ends up being a model for the kind of progress we can make in the months to come," President Obama said as he signed the law, which extends U.S. Export-Import bank's mandate through September 2014 and increases its financing cap to $140 billion from the current $100 billion.
While the president praised Congress for passing the legislation, he has campaigned against what he sees as a do-nothing Congress crippled by partisanship. He said the U.S. "shouldn't have to wait until an election to do some of this business" and urged Congress to pass more of his economic ideas.
"It's absolutely critical for us to make sure we are full speed ahead," the president said as he urged Congress to pass his "to do" list, a series of economic proposals--such as ideas to help veterans find jobs and allow homeowners to refinance their mortgages--aimed at boosting growth.
The country's economy is "delicate" because of the euro-zone crisis, the president said. And while he said the U.S. housing market is getting a "little bit" better, "it's going to take more time than any of us would like" for the country to fully recover.
The president said the Export-Import bank will help the U.S. boost exports. The bank helps U.S. exporters by offering financing assistance to foreign buyers of their products, often at better terms than those commercially available. The mandate for the bank was set to expire at month's end, and Congress approved reauthorizing the bank after a tough lobbying campaign by companies for and against it.
Exporters such as Boeing Co. (BA) and General Electric Co. (GE) urged Congress to expand the bank's lending powers, while firms such as Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) pushed back, saying the bank subsidizes foreigners that compete with U.S. companies.
The president hasn't always had full-throated support for the bank. In 2008, when he was running for president, Obama said the bank had become "little more than a fund for corporate welfare."
The law marks the second piece of bipartisan the president has signed into law in the last few months. In April, the president signed a law that would loosen accounting rules for start-up companies and was touted as a way to spur entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurs, the business community, many Democrats and Republicans hailed passage of the Jobs Act in April, though some regulators, investor groups and lawmakers raised concerns it would lead to more financial fraud.
-By Jared A. Favole, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9256; firstname.lastname@example.org
--Corey Boles contributed to this report.