Steny Hoyer: Export-Import Bank Deal ‘Pretty Close’

Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:20pm

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said today he and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are “pretty close” to striking a deal on reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank as the two narrow their differences on the length of the reauthorization and how much lending authority to extend to the bank.

But still outstanding, according to the Maryland Democrat, are concerns raised prominently by Delta Air Lines about loans used to purchase widebody jets.

“I think there’s no doubt that Mr. Cantor is concerned about the issues that Delta has raised and he’s looking at those,” Hoyer said. “Delta raises issues that are worthy of concern. That is, from their perspective they are being disadvantaged to foreign carriers by giving some subsidies to foreign carriers in terms of loan guarantees.”

A draft version of the bill from early March includes two sections that address loans used to purchase “large air carrier aircraft,” which are defined by the bill as airplanes that seat at least 31 passengers.

Under that draft bill, the Ex-Im Bank would be required to solicit and respond to public comment on any loans made to companies that intend to purchase these large air carrier aircraft.

The bill would also require the president to negotiate with foreign nations about “substantially” reducing export credit financing for large air carrier aircraft.

Delta has lobbied for any reauthorization bill to include provisions dealing with large commercial planes.

Delta CEO Richard Anderson told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce earlier this month that an Ex-Im loan provided Air India a significant financial advantage on interest costs for airplanes it purchased to compete with his company. “Our focus is narrow, very narrow. We don’t object to that kind of financing for other manufacturers outside of airplanes. We don’t object to that financing on narrow body airplanes,” Anderson said.

Hoyer said that even though Cantor is concerned about the issues raised by Delta, the Virginia Republican is definitely interested in passing a bill reauthorizing the bank.

“My own view, my honest view is that Mr. Cantor does in fact want to see this bill pass. And he’s been working with us to try to make sure that — I don’t think he can pass it on his own, obviously. I’m not sure he wants to pass it on his own. But I think he’s going to need help,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer said he had expected the bill to come to the floor this week but realized that more work was still required.

“I presume that has something to do with his wanting to ensure his Members of his Conference that they have a comfort level with the bill that he’s agreed to,” Hoyer said of Cantor.