The Policymaking Process

Roles and Responsibilities of Committees, Committee Chairpersons, Staff, and the Board of Directors - U.S. Chamber of Commerce



The fundamental activity of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is to develop and implement policy on major issues affecting business. Key to this effort is the work of committees, subcommittees, task forces, and councils involving more than 1,500 representatives of member corporations, organizations, and the academic community who serve voluntarily. In almost every instance, significant policy and public issue positions originate with one of these Chamber components.

Two aspects of committee participation in the policy process stand out:

First, as assemblies of experts in various subject areas, the committees lend credibility and acceptance to policy and public issue positions.

Second, and perhaps more important, the committees are part of a process to ensure that policymaking is a democratic endeavor.

Largely because of the committee system, the U.S. Chamber reflects the grassroots views of the entire business community when the organization testifies before Congress or regulatory agencies, disseminates reports or statements to the media, or sends comments or letters to Capitol Hill and to policymakers.

U.S. Chamber membership, from which committee members are drawn, covers every segment of the economy and includes business organizations of every size in every part of the country. Members represent a broad scope of the nation's ideological and political spectrum. The Chamber, being responsible for representing such diverse interests, can operate effectively only through a sophisticated policymaking process, such as a well-developed committee system.

The ability to develop policy positions through a democratic process not only permits the Chamber to arrive at a consensus on important issues, but it also gives the organization credibility and respectability that carries substantial weight in the nation's public policy arena.

The integrity of the U.S. Chamber's policy process must be preserved. This responsibility is shared by staff, committee chairs, and each committee member.

Everyone involved in the process must help develop positions that benefit the entire business community, rather than any given narrow interest. The Chamber makes every effort to accommodate all members who wish to be heard. The process must be open and above board.

Maintaining the integrity of the process is essential for both moral and practical reasons. Very few members resign from the U.S. Chamber because of policy disagreements. This record can be maintained if members know that their views receive a fair hearing and that the Chamber takes positions through a democratic process.