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February 8, 2016

Boeing 787 Announcement Comes as Ex-Im Bill Lobbying Intensifies

The announcement Wednesday by Boeing that North Charleston, S.C., will be the site for final assembly of the 787-10, the newest version of its 787 Dreamliner, coincided with a push by a coalition of business groups to urge House Republicans to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

The charter for the bank, which is especially important for Boeing’s sales to foreign airlines, expires at the end of September.

Long a target for small-government conservatives, the bank became especially contentious when Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is about to become the House majority leader, switched his position on the bank and said he opposed reauthorizing it.

Among the foremost critics of the Ex-Im Bank has been Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson, who says the bank in effect subsidizes Delta’s foreign competitors such as Emirates.

But one Ex-Im ally, the Aerospace Industries Association, is running ads calling the upcoming vote on the bank “the vote that will define pro-business candidates in the 2014 mid-term elections.”

The Twitter push by a group called Exporters for Ex-Im targeted several House Republicans, including at least two who voted “no” when the House last voted to reauthorize the bank in 2012, Diane Black of Tennessee and Bill Huizenga of Michigan, as well as first-termers such as Jackie Walorski of Indiana and Richard Hudson of North Carolina.

“As you head home this weekend, don’t forget about how Ex-Im is strengthening NC businesses,” said the Twitter message to Hudson.


In the Senate Wednesday night, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill to re-authorize Ex-Im Bank. “Without the reauthorization of Ex-Im, the aerospace industry in Illinois for companies like Boeing could face unfair competition from China,” Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R- Ill., said.

Boeing’s corporate headquarters is in Chicago.

Boeing’s South Carolina announcement Wednesday was a disappointment, although not an unexpected one, for the company’s long-time manufacturing bastion in Everett, Wash.

The Seattle Times reported the announcement showed “the profound impact of Boeing’s 2009 decision to bypass its unionized stronghold in Washington state in favor of building a second 787 assembly line in non-union South Carolina.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R- S.C., called it “great news for our state and a terrific vote of confidence in the South Carolina workforce. It will solidify Boeing’s position in South Carolina and continue to draw suppliers and jobs to our state.”

When the House voted in 2012 to re-authorize the Ex-Im Bank, the South Carolina House delegation split, with four members voting for it and two, Republicans Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan voting against it.

Boeing’s North Charleston facility is in the congressional district of Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, who voted for Ex-Im Bank in 2012, and is adjacent to that of Rep. Mark Sanford, a Republican who was elected in 2013 after having served as the state’s governor when Boeing located its facility in South Carolina.

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