BANGOR, Maine — General Electric Co. said Tuesday that work supporting 500 American jobs, including 80 in Bangor, could be offshored, citing Congress’ decision to let funding for the U.S. Export-Import Bank lapse earlier this year.

It made for political hay in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, where Democrats criticized U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and other Republicans for their stances against reauthorizing the bank, which has supported more than $290 million in Maine exports since 2007.

On Tuesday, Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said in a statement that Poliquin’s “political grandstanding has chased good business overseas.”

 No Maine jobs have been lost, but GE said 80 jobs making power turbine components at its plant in Bangor could be moved to France because the company no longer has access to funding from the Export-Import Bank, which underwrites loans that help foreign purchasers buy American goods.

Instead, the company said France’s export agency has agreed to provide credit to GE supporting $11 billion in bids for global power projects. In exchange, the company would move gas turbine production to that country.

The Bangor facility, which employs 450, would remain open.

“In a competitive world, we are left with no choice but to invest in non-U.S. manufacturing and move production to countries that support high-tech exporters,” said Tim Rice, GE’s vice chairman, in a statement.


The bank’s authority lapsed in June, held up by congressional Republicans, including Poliquin, who think it distorts free markets. They’ve been under pressure from Democrats and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to reauthorize it.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, and a bipartisan majority of U.S. governors wrote a letter advocating for it in April.

Poliquin, whose office didn’t immediately comment on the move, is the only member of Maine’s congressional delegation to oppose reauthorization. In June, he wrote a column for The Maine Wire, a conservative news site, criticizing the bank for fraud and mismanagement.

He took heat for that stance: In July, John Kenney, manager of the Bangor GE plant, wrote an OpEd in the Bangor Daily News urging Poliquin to put “special interests and political rhetoric aside.”

GE’s move could make the bank’s authority a central issue in Poliquin’s 2016 re-election bid. In August, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ campaign arm, aired radio ads criticizing him.

Now at least two Democrats, former Orono state senator Emily Cain — who lost to Poliquin last year — and Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci, are set to square off in a primary for their party’s nomination. The 2nd District, which was represented by Democrats for 20 years before Poliquin’s win, has been targeted by both parties as a top national race in 2016.

In a statement, Cain called Poliquin’s actions “shameful because they have devastating consequences for the people he is supposed to fight for.”

“This rejection of the Ex-Im Bank is just another example of Bruce Poliquin being out of step with Maine values and yet again putting his political ideology ahead of the lives and jobs of hardworking Mainers,” she said.

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