January 31, 2023


CLARK KNOCKS DYSFUNCTION IN WASHINGTON: U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark chastised policymakers in Washington today, urging leaders to look “beyond this Congress and this political cycle” to find areas of compromise on issues favorable to businesses. 

“Business demands better from our government,” Clark said in the trade group’s annual “State of American Business” address. “Because when it comes to Washington, the state of American business is fed up. The polarization, the gridlock, the overreach, the inability to act smartly or strategically for our future, is making it harder for all of us to do our jobs, to fill our roles, [and] move the country forward.” She bemoaned the policy whiplash for businesses created by a “cycle of hyper partisanship and political power swings.” 

“Government isn’t working,” she repeated numerous times. Among other issues, Clark implored lawmakers to find consensus on permitting and immigration reforms, raising the debt ceiling and new data privacy and artificial intelligence regulations. She also called on the House to “forge a serious bipartisan approach” and “strike a balance” in the new House Select Committee on China. “Do your jobs, so we can do ours,” she said. 

For Clark, who in particular has emerged as the face of some conservatives’ crusade against so-called woke corporations, the swipes at politicians who stoke “noise and outrage” to “grab headlines and get clicks” may have appeared like a rebuttal to the Chamber’s critics in the GOP — a group that includes new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.  

In an interview on CNBC and a news conference after her speech, though, Clark had nothing but praise for the GOP leader before accusing President Joe Biden of going “after House Republicans for some messaging soundbites.” Throughout the day, she also reiterated the Chamber’s many accusations of overreach against the Biden administration, with whose regulators the Chamber has sparred. 

The head of K Street’s biggest lobbying spender expressed exasperation when asked about the organization’s credibility with the political party it has traditionally been most aligned with, though, dismissing the notion of a rift as “locker room shenanigans” overblown by the press. 

“We will continue to do meaningful policy work with the entire conference, as we always have,” Clark said. But while she noted she’d spoken with several House Republicans just in recent days, and repeatedly praised bipartisan “workhorses” in Congress, Clark declined to say when last she’d met with McCarthy or another member of the new House GOP leadership. 

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