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Kimberly Strassel essentially argues in the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce should not have endorsed any Democrats in the last cycle, even though they supported several pro-business priorities such as passage of President Trump’s number one legislative priority, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Strassell is certainly right that a Chamber endorsement means a great deal, so let’s set the record straight about our political activities, and what we work hard to achieve.
In discussions with Strassel, we put our efforts into a broader context by pointing to the 191 Republicans we endorsed in the 2020 election cycle. It is important to remember that the Chamber evaluates Republicans and Democrats on the exact same votes using the exact same scorecard.
The Chamber is also not a single issue organization. For example, back in 2017 there was no bigger champion of tax reform than the Chamber, but about a dozen Republicans opposed the bill. Many of those members still earned the Chamber’s endorsement in the next election based on the overall voting record.
We also told her that the Chamber’s endorsements aren’t set in stone. Like our member companies, we expect results. Members of Congress must continue to support pro-business legislation to maintain a high score on our scorecard. As Strassel quoted Chamber Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley, “They can earn the endorsement and lose the endorsement.”
As for our scorecard, we did change it in 2018 to reward Members of Congress for demonstrating bipartisanship and taking leadership on bills important to the business community. We made these changes to counter the political polarization plaguing our politics. America’s job creators need a governing, pro-business majority that’s able and willing to develop policy solutions that are good for the country and that stand the test of time. Sudden policy swings, depending on which party is in power, creates uncertainty that hurts investment, innovation, job creation, and inclusive economic growth.
And we stand firm in our commitment to make Washington functional again.
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Working with both parties is not “appeasement” to use Strassel’s word. In fact, it’s something Americans want, expect, and deserve from their elected leaders. A recent CNN poll found 87% said “that attempts at bipartisanship are a good thing.” They understand the importance of building consensus.
There are many tools to advance pro-business policies, and the Chamber deploys them all. We engage with both parties–yes, we make sure business has a seat and a voice at the table. Look at what we’re doing on infrastructure. It’s not just President Biden’s proposal or nothing. We know there is a bipartisan bill that can be passed, and we’re working to bring Democrats and Republicans together to achieve that.
We also fight, as we’re doing right now to stop President Biden’s proposed job-killing tax increases.
Bottom line: The Chamber’s mission is to foster an environment where business owners can create jobs, grow the economy, and improve people’s lives. The ideas and policies Members of Congress support are what matter, not the party designation after their names. And we are watching.