- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 15, 2015

General Electric announced Tuesday it will move 500 jobs overseas, placing the blame squarely on Congress for failing to revive the Export-Import Bank, an obscure credit agency that had financed overseas sales for decades until a conservative revolt led to its midsummer demise.

The company said it has $11 billion in projects that require export financing. Since the U.S. bank known as Ex-Im is out of commission, GE struck a deal with France’s version of the bank to finance turbine sales to Indonesia and other foreign markets.

As a result, GE said it’s moving jobs from Texas, South Carolina and Maine to France, Hungary and China.

“We do not make today’s announcements lightly, and in fact, have done everything in our power to avoid making these moves at all, but Congress left us no choice when it failed to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank this summer,” GE Vice Chairman John Rice said.

The company’s decision could breathe new life into the bitter debate over the bank, which hasn’t been able to extend new lines of credits since the end of June.

Established in 1934, the bank steps in to finance exports when private lenders are unwilling to extend credit.

President Obama, his Democratic allies and some Republicans have pushed for its return, saying it supports jobs and has majority support in both chambers of Congress.

The Senate attached a measure to revive the bank to a long-term highway bill it passed before the August recess, although the House has not acted on the measure as it pursues its own path to roads funding.

Congress has the responsibility to do all it can to support job creation and economic growth, yet because of the failure of House Republican leadership to schedule debate on legislation to reauthorize the Bank, it has effectively disarmed and hindered American business’ ability to compete on a level playing field overseas,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and other leading Democrats wrote Tuesday to Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

Yet a powerful group of conservatives say the bank had been handing out “corporate welfare” to large corporations that don’t need it. They’re content to see it unwind its remaining obligations and die off.

They say the sky hasn’t fallen since the charter expired June 30, and that Ex-Im’s old customers will get by without it.

But the bank’s former customers aren’t going quietly.

Aerospace giant Boeing said a pair of international buyers cited Ex-Im’s slated demise in canceling satellite orders, and it is one of several factors that will lead to layoffs before the end of this year.

Now, GE says it had “no choice” but to move jobs overseas.

“We call on Congress to promptly reauthorize Ex-Im,” Mr. Rice said. “The truth is that Ex-Im supports thousands of U.S. jobs and has returned $7 billion to the U.S. Treasury over the last 20 years — a rare government program that supports the economy while cutting the deficit.”



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