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The issue is also stoking an increasingly contentious lobbying fight, pitting Boeing Co., a leading bank beneficiary, against Delta Air Lines, which accuses the Ex-Im Bank of helping foreign airlines at the expense of U.S. carriers.
Although Cantor is seen as an ally of Delta, which has been fighting for restrictions on the bank, his effort to find common ground has drawn praise from the bank’s supporters.
Cantor is “the adult in the room,” one lobbyist involved in the fight recently said.
Pro-bank business groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which were caught off guard by assaults on the bank by the Club for Growth and its allies, have struck back hard.
The bank’s defenders have spotlighted Ex-Im Bank loans that benefited some of its leading critics, including Delta and Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, a businessman and former House Member from Indiana.
“This is a huge priority for the chamber and the business community,” said Christopher Wenk, senior director of international policy at the chamber, which has organized hundreds of meetings with lawmakers and their aides and is preparing its second pro-bank ad campaign. “We have a lot of companies, particularly small and medium-sized companies, that really rely on Ex-Im and the services it provides,” he said.
Typically reauthorized every four years, the bank is fast approaching its lending cap of $100 billion. At issue are the length of the bank’s charter and how high to raise the cap. Proposed lending limits have ranged from $113 billion to $140 billion, with talk of a compromise in the $130 billion range.
Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.