ATLANTA -- The drama over Delta Airlines and the NRA has entered a third day – and may drag out at the Capitol for another month. That’s how long the legislature has to decide whether to give Delta and other airlines in Georgia a break on their jet fuel taxes.
Meantime, other states are offering to host the Atlanta based airline.
Delta Air Lines just signed a twenty year contract to stay in Atlanta, including their hub and headquarters. But that’s not stopping other states and cities from trying to sweet-talk the airline into moving. “Hey Delta – Virginia is for lovers and airline hubs. You’re welcome here any time,” tweeted Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.
It came after Delta ended airfare discounts for members of the National Rifle Association, in what the airline said was an effort to stay neutral in the gun debate. It had the opposite effect among Georgia Republicans. "I think Delta really took a wrong step by discriminating against a particular group with their discounts," said state Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus) Monday.
Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, who is running for Governor, announced on Twitter he would "block" a jet fuel tax cut bill that would benefit Delta. "Certainly the NRA is an organization that feels very strongly as I do around second amendment, and I think it’s time that we take a stand," Cagle told reporters Monday.
The legislature had seemed poised endorse the jet fuel tax break. Now Republican leaders say they won't unless the airline reinstates the NRA discount privilege.
Meantime, a Democratic Ohio congressman tweeted “Hey Delta – northeast Ohio would make a great HQ if you’re put off by Mr. Cagle’s authoritarian tendencies.” New York’s Democratic Lieutenant Governor tweeted she “admires your principled stance… move HQ to where you’re appreciated?” And the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis tweeted “Hey Delta… “Maybe you want to check into a city that DOESN’T cater to the NRA.”
Some Republicans at the Capitol hoped for a compromise. Governor Nathan Deal, who backs the jet fuel tax cut, skipped an event outside his office so he wouldn’t have to answer questions about the Delta controversy.
But for some lawmakers, only one compromise seemed suitable. "We’d like for Delta to capitulate and agree with our side of this," said state Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), chairman of the powerful Senate Rules committee.
But the showdown between NRA backers at the Capitol and Delta could go on for awhile. The legislature could wait until the end of March to act on the tax bill.