Almost three months after the Export-Import Bank’s charter expired, Democrats and pro-business groups are ramping up a campaign to hit anti-Ex-Im Republicans where it hurts: In their districts.
General Electric announced Wednesday that 500 jobs would be moving outside the United States, directly implying that Congress’ refusal to renew the Export-Import Bank was to blame. “With no U.S. export financing available, GE has pursued non-U.S. options to meet customer requirements,” a news release said , continuing that 400 jobs would be moving to France because a government export-credit agency there has agreed to offer a line of credit for power deals. GE also said another 100 jobs would be moving from Texas to China and Hungary to handle export-credit agency-funding needs, was just the latest in the company’s push to embarrass Republicans. General Electric announced at the end of August it would no longer consider Dallas as a location for a new corporate headquarters because of the numerous Texas Republicans who oppose Ex-Im (most notably Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling).
Late last week, GE made a similar announcement with Cincinnati. General Electric may be looking to punish Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, and lawmakers such as House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan, who has made his opposition to Export-Import a mantle of congressional conservatism. Furthermore, Speaker John A. Boehner, who represents some northwest suburbs of Cincinnati and who is largely supportive of the Export-Import Bank, has not forced an Ex-Im vote.
And with all the GE news, Democrats are seizing on Republican leadership’s Export-Import Bank reticence to hit the opposing party.
Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, never one to miss a news-release opportunity, wrote a letter to Boehner with other Democrats urging the speaker to send the president legislation that would renew the Ex-Im Bank.
Financial Services ranking Democrat Maxine Waters of California, who signed the Hoyer letter, issued her own press release claiming, “GE’s announcement today reflects the human costs of continued Republican obstruction to any efforts to renew the charter of [the] Export-Import Bank over the long-term.”
Even the Obama administration got in on the act Tuesday, with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest telling reporters congressional inaction has consequences, and that it appears Republicans are “killing quite a few jobs on their own.”
Meanwhile, Republicans — including Boehner’s office — largely took a pass on responding to the news, but some Cincinnati-area Republicans did contest GE’s reasoning on not moving to their state.
Steve Chabot, the chairman of the Small Business Committee who represents Cincinnati, told CQ Roll Call that while GE is a successful company and an important part of the economy in the Cincinnati area, he was “skeptical that they would make a decision as important as where to locate their corporate headquarters based solely on how a handful of elected officials view a single issue.”
“I think it is more likely,” Chabot continued, “that they make those types of business decisions based on what is in the best interests of their company, their employees and their shareholders.”
Jordan’s chief of staff, Ray Yonkura, expressed a similar sentiment when he told CQ Roll Call that GE was a great American company, “but with all due respect we find it hard to believe that one of the biggest corporations in the world would actually base an important decision like moving their world headquarters on the opinion of a single politician on a single issue.”