CT lawmakers meet with GE’s Immelt, promise help in D.C.

Washington – When General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt met with several members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation Wednesday, he was promised whatever help he needed in Washington.

“We offered to do whatever we can,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Immelt was on Capitol Hill Wednesday to lobby for reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, whose charter GOP congressional leaders let expire at the end of June.

Connecticut’s all-Democratic congressional delegation strongly supports reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank.

Meeting with Immelt besides Blumenthal were Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Reps. Jim Himes, D-4th District, and Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District. They assured the GE chief they would help with all other federal issues on the company’s agenda.

Immelt is considering moving GE headquarters out of Fairfield, saying recent state corporate tax hikes have resulted in a “bad business climate” in the state.

Delegation members tried to talk him out of that idea.

“Our strong hope is that they decide to stay,” Blumenthal said.

He said Immelt “is clearly” looking for a long-term home for GE’s headquarters, but a final decision to move from Connecticut has not been made.

“We are prepared to continue consulting and meeting with GE to determine what we can do on every issue that concerns the company, including Ex-Im,” Blumenthal said. “We are here to help.”

Immelt also met with members of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of business friendly Democrats that is co-chaired by Himes and counts Esty as a member.

There have been reports that GE has considered moving its headquarters to Dallas, Atlanta or Cincinnati, Ohio. But there are also reports that those sites fell out of favor because they are represented in the House of Representatives by GOP leaders who fought reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank.

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt

The Export-Import Bank is a government corporation created by former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1934 to close gaps in sales of U.S. goods to buyers overseas when private lenders are unable or unwilling to take on the financial risk.

GE used the bank’s services to sell billions of dollars worth of its locomotives, turbines and other products overseas.

This week the company said it might move hundreds of U.S. jobs overseas to take advantage of credit agencies provided by other governments, especially France, since it can no longer get help from the Ex-Im Bank.

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