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CEO DATELINE — Report: Chamber excluded from GOP strategy calls

Oct. 4, 2021

By William Ehart

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is on the outs with the House Republican leadership, according to Punchbowl News.

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GOP leadership, under House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), has begun excluding the big-spending business lobby from strategy calls with other political interests who oppose the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill central to President Joe Biden’s agenda, Punchbowl reports.

That legislation, which includes tax increases on the wealthy and on corporations, is a priority for Democrats who want to fund child care, health care, education and climate change initiatives. Through the reconciliation process, legislation can be passed with a simple majority of votes in the House and the Senate.

The Chamber has angered Republicans by arguing that its support for a $1 trillion, bipartisan infrastructure bill can be separated from its opposition to the reconciliation bill, according to Punchbowl. Progressive Democrats in the House insist both bills must move together.

In a statement to Punchbowl, the Chamber reiterated its opposition to the reconciliation bill.

“The Chamber is opposed to the reconciliation bill because it is bad for the economy,” the group said. “Defeating the bill is the top priority for the Chamber which is why we have been working all year to educate the lawmakers whose votes will decide whether or not these economically disastrous policies become law. That won’t change and in fact our efforts on behalf of our members will only increase in the weeks ahead.”

The group also alienated Republicans during the 2020 election by supporting dozens of freshman House Democrats.

The Chamber is now under the sole leadership of CEO Suzanne Clarke after longtime leader Tom Donohue, with whom she had shared responsibilities in recent years, retired in March.

But the GOP and some of its business-group patrons have been drifting apart as the party has taken a more populist turn—especially during the administration of former President Donald Trump—to support tariffs and other policies traditionally opposed by the Chamber.