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DeMint Ally Targets Boeing's Dreamliner Deals

New amendment shines light on challenge to loan program.

A bipartisan jobs bill will take center stage this week in Washington, with amendments focused on buttressing or dismantling Boeing's Dreamliner fortunes, potentially impacting thousands of jobs in the Lowcountry.

On Wednesday, a Senate amendment was introduced that would provide an extension to the Export-Import Bank, a self-financed agency that helps to facilitate American exports. Co-sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, the amendment would also open up an additional $140 billion available for loans through the program.

The New York Times notes that the Export-Import Bank is an important partner in Boeing's deals overseas.

W. James McNerney Jr., Boeing’s chief executive, argued that uncertainty over Washington’s commitment to export financing was already hurting business, people familiar with the discussion said.

But Delta has argued that the bank’s financing, facilitating the sale of Boeing aircraft to competitor airlines, would harm its business. The airline has lobbied on the other side.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and five other conservative senators are arguing against the bank reauthorization. DeMint is on familiar ground, challenging government intervention where he feels the market can adequately take care of itself.

But Oklahoma Sen. Tim Coburn, a frequent ally of DeMint's and fellow critic of the bank amendment, is expected to present his own proposal today, according to Politico. Directly in his cross-hairs: bank financing in support of Boeing's Dreamliner planes.

Turning up the heat on Boeing Co., Sen. Tom Coburn wants Congress to bar the Export-Import Bank from financing aircraft sales to foreign airlines if the transactions do “substantial injury” to American carriers competing for the same international routes.

Unlike the bank extension, where DeMint could argue the market will take care of the company. This new proposal from Coburn is a direct attack on Boeing and Dreamliner manufacturing, potentially impacting at least 3,600 Lowcountry jobs.

DeMint has yet to weigh in on Coburn's proposal. The South Carolina senator rallied behind Boeing last year as a frequent and loud critic of the National Labor Review Board's effort to challenge the Charleston facility over anti-union concerns.

At a Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce meeting last summer, and the consequences of a hostile environment.

"We can do everything right here in South Carolina and Charleston to create a good business environment, but the irresponsible actions in Washington could lead to higher taxes and a business environment so that companies like Boeing go overseas where they don’t have to deal with all this stuff," he said.

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