Feb. 20, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Boeing may have won over President Trump about the virtues of ExIm Bank (it’s not entirely clear), but he’s the wrong target.
It’s US Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) who’s been holding up appointments to the ExIm Board of Directors, blocking a quorum needed to approve aircraft financing guarantees on anything more than $10m.
Shelby was the chairman of a key US Senate committee which had direct authority over ExIm Bank appointments. Shelby blocked appointments under President Obama, claiming ExIm is an agency of corporate welfare, of which Boeing was the principal beneficiary.
However, Shelby was once a supporter of ExIm. After Obama was elected, the rise of the so-called Tea Party (largely to oppose all things Obama) targeted ExIm as a wasteful government agency. (Never mind that ExIm returned a surplus to the Treasury since its Depression-era inception though its fees.)
More to the point: Boeing rival Airbus selected Mobile (AL) for a new assembly site, first for the planned US Air Force tanker, the KC-330 based on the Airbus A330-200. The contract award was vitiated after it was determined the USAF treated Boeing unfairly.
Boeing won the re-bid. Airbus then chose Mobile as its US assembly site for the A320 commercial jet family.
As LNC reported in November, it’s hardly a coincidence that Shelby—a supporter of Airbus in Mobile—blocked the ExIm appointments ever since.
With the elections last year, Shelby moved on from his chairmanship of the Senate committee oversight of ExIm.
But he still will block ExIm Board appointments, an Alabama city official who knows Shelby told LNC.
Under US Senate rules, a Senator can put a “hold” on nominations for any reason that require Senate approval.
Shelby appears ready to continue his hold.
Ironically, Boeing is a big employer in Alabama—but in defense, not commercial aerospace.