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The club’s increasing heft is reflected this year in its influential super PAC, which, with $5.2 million in receipts, is among the top 10 super PACs, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The club has waded into GOP primaries and will count Ex-Im Bank reauthorization on its key vote scorecard.
“The good news is that we’re having this debate, that the reauthorization is being examined, I think, to a greater extent than it ever has before,” Chocola said. “So we’ll continue to advocate basically for the elimination of the Ex-Im Bank because we think it’s a market-distorting effort that puts the taxpayer at risk.”
Delta supports the bank’s reauthorization, with conditions aimed at applying more scrutiny to bank loans and loan guarantees. But Delta has also benefited from Ex-Im Bank financing, the bank itself recently pointed out. On April 5, an Ex-Im Bank press release touted an $84.8 million loan guarantee to a Brazilian airline that will use engine maintenance services provided by a Delta subsidiary.
“Ex-Im financing supports highly-skilled Delta jobs in Atlanta,” the release declared. Delta officials have downplayed the loan as unrelated to its concerns over financing that benefits the airline’s foreign competitors.
Ex-Im Bank allies have also quietly let it drop that the family company Chocola ran before his election to the House, an Indiana agricultural equipment and manufacturing business, benefited from the bank’s assistance. Customers in foreign countries received Ex-Im Bank loans to buy equipment from Chocola’s company, according to National Journal.
“People can try to distract [from] the issue, but it doesn’t change the issue,” said Chocola, who noted that he did not recall the loans in question. The bank, he said, “is still a taxpayer-funded, market-distorting program.”
The House is expected to take up the reauthorization first. At a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Senate could “quite easily” vote again on the matter but that “the concern, of course, has been the House.”
The issue has driven an “unwanted wedge” between the tea party and the business community, Schumer said. He added: “Mainstream Republicans don’t want this fight. In fact, they’re embarrassed by it.”