Nov 17, 2015 - 2:15pm

No Time to Slow Down

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Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, joins U.S. Chamber Chairman Michael L. Ducker (left) and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in Chicago to present the Lawsuit Climate Survey findings.

Legal Reform

The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) works to make our legal system faster, simpler, and fairer. 

  • The 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States report by ILR shows how businesses perceive the states’ tort liability systems. Several large states, such as California and Illinois, have some of the worst legal climates for businesses. 

Cybersecurity

Dangerous cyberattacks aimed at the U.S. government and businesses underscore the urgent need to prevent these attacks and limit their impact.

  • The Chamber held its 4th Annual Cybersecurity Summit in October to explore the latest threat landscape and elevate cyber awareness for businesses.
  • The Chamber is pressing Congress to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). The bill would foster information sharing between the public and private sectors by ensuring that businesses have safe harbor against frivolous lawsuits when voluntarily sharing and receiving threat indicators.
  • The Chamber launched the Cybersecurity Leadership Council, a group of businesses and associations committed to promoting smart cybersecurity policies, industry best practices, and market-based solutions

Technology

Technology-based industries and businesses create tremendous growth and opportunity in the U.S. economy.

  • The Chamber’s Free Enterprise Hackathon, the first-ever hackathon hosted by a business association, was held in October. The social coding event brought together computer programmers to build something new.
  • The Chamber’s Center for Advanced Technology & Innovation (CATI) works to better meet the needs of its tech members.

Energy

The U.S. Chamber Institute for 21st Century Energy is urging Congress and the administration to take legislative and regulatory steps to produce more American energy in an environmentally responsible manner and sell it around the world.

  • The Chamber continues to press lawmakers to approve legislation lifting the 40-year ban on crude oil exports. “Exporting oil would benefit the U.S. economy and reduce the influence of countries and groups that use oil exports for purposes inconsistent with America’s geopolitical and national security interests,” the Chamber wrote to House members.
  • The Institute released Grinding to a Halt, which specifies the negative impacts of EPA’s ozone regulations on key transportation projects across the nation.
  • The Chamber has been one of the leading advocates opposing EPA’s newly tightened national ozone standard, particularly while the current standard is being implemented. The Chamber helped spearhead a letter to President Obama from 260 business organizations strongly urging it to be withdrawn.

Trade

The Chamber continues pushing to make it easier for American companies to reach customers globally.

  • The president signed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) into law, and negotiators reached agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in October after more than five years of talks. While details are forthcoming, the TPP has the potential to spur growth and job creation in the United States and the other 11 countries taking part.
  • Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, saying that “expanding the U.S.-China commercial relationship is essential to driving needed growth in our economies and stability in the global economy.” 
  • Congress adjourned for its August break without reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, which expired in June. The toll is mounting for American workers and companies, with lost jobs and sales. The Chamber urges Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im and limit the damage to the U.S. economy.
  • The Chamber’s Jodi Bond joined Ambassador David Thorne, senior adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, on a trade mission to Panama and Colombia. The trip underscored U.S. public- and private-sector commitment to economic diplomacy and development in both countries.

Transportation and Infrastructure

Congress must stop making excuses, put an end to temporary extensions, and pass an adequately funded, long-term highway bill.

  • The Senate passed a six-year bill, but the House did not act on it before leaving for the August recess. The Chamber continues pressing lawmakers for a long-term bill with a permanent funding mechanism that provides adequate resources. The simplest, fairest, and most efficient way to get those resources is through a moderate increase in the gas tax phased in over time.

Health Care

The Chamber focuses on promoting effective private sector solutions to our health care challenges to control costs, expand access, and improve the quality of care.

  • The Chamber and others formed the 50-100 Coalition, representing small businesses. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included a misguided policy that would have forced employers with between 51 and 100 employees to change health care plans by requiring them to purchase insurance with additional mandates in 2016, leading to higher premiums. Legislation maintaining the current definition was signed into law.
    The 40% tax on health care plans is yet another example of how the Affordable Care Act has failed to curb rising costs.

    -Tom Donohue
    U.S. Chamber President and CEO

  • Repealing the so-called Cadillac tax remains one of the Chamber’s top health care priorities. Even though this burdensome provision of the ACA does not take effect until 2018, businesses are already restructuring their benefits to avoid this costly tax. By 2022, more than half of all employers will be at risk of paying the 40% excise tax on high-value health plans.

Regulatory Reform

The Chamber will use every tool in its arsenal—including litigation—to improve, suspend, or roll back regulatory power grabs that hamper economic freedom.

  • The Chamber filed suit and called on EPA to throw out the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which would dramatically expand the areas regulated under the Clean Water Act. The Chamber’s William Kovacs testified before a House committee, saying that “the rule will have a chilling effect on project development and force property owners to hire consultants, specialists, and lawyers.” The Chamber sent a coalition letter to the Senate supporting legislation that would require EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the rule and start the process over.
  • The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which regulates greenhouse gas emissions from domestic power plants, goes beyond the legal and statutory authority allowed by the Clean Air Act. In addition to reliability concerns, the new standards will likely drive up electricity costs for businesses and consumers, impose tens of billions of dollars in annual compliance costs, and reduce U.S. global competitiveness. It is doubtful that EPA’s rule will reduce global carbon emissions, instead shifting them and U.S. jobs to other countries.
  • The Department of Labor plans to move forward with a new fiduciary rule that would significantly hurt the ability of many Americans to save for retirement. A Chamber-commissioned study says that small businesses and their employees would suffer. 

Immigration

Our immigration system is broken and fails to meet the needs of our society, our economy, our businesses, and our workers.

  • The Chamber released a new report—Restructuring the U.S. Immigration System to Increase Security and Promote Economic Growth—that details reforms to immigration laws that would promote economic growth, create American jobs, and enhance U.S. national security. The report serves as a one-stop resource of arguments, facts, and statistics to address the complexities and misconceptions that have plagued the debate.

Please find more U.S. Chamber Quarterly Fall 2015 articles here.