Because of expiring provisions in current law, officials face a May 30 deadline to reauthorize the bank. One source following the issue said that based on meetings with House staffers, passage of a reauthorization bill is likely within the next two weeks.
The fight over the bank has resulted in colorful charges of hypocrisy and some embarrassing revelations.
The Club for Growth, led by former Rep. Chris Chocola (Ind.), published a list of the “Top 10 Clients” who received or benefited from loans from the bank. The list includes Solyndra, Mexican drug cartels, Enron and an oil company with ties to the Russian mafia.
Supporters of the bank noted Chocola’s family business once benefited from the bank’s loans.
Delta, the leading business critic, has received numerous federal subsidies and bailouts over the years.
“They’ve been lobbying Congress for handouts for a decade,” said a former House aide to a RSC member. The source pointed out that Delta lobbied for and received a pension bailout from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. in 2007 for nearly $1 billion. “The irony is that the Delta spokesman who responds to this quote has his own pension subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer.”
And, in the midst of the debate, the Export-Import Bank issued an $85 million loan that benefits Delta, which conservatives said was a play to embarrass the company.
Trebor Banstetter, a Delta spokesman, said charges of hypocrisy are based on a misunderstanding of the company’s position. Delta doesn’t oppose reauthorizing the bank, but rather it is focused on changes that would ensure its loans don’t accidentally harm other U.S. companies, he said.
Banstetter also noted the relatively high level of taxes on airline companies.