The Business Lobby Doesn’t Need Kevin McCarthy


The US Chamber of Commerce, Washington’s largest and most influential business lobby, can’t even meet with the Republican expected to be the next Speaker of the House. That’s certainly unusual, but the more pressing question is how this strained relationship will affect the prospects for legislation in 2023.

Answer: Not often.

With Gridlock, not Kevin McCarthy, reigning supreme for the next two years, Republicans controlling the House, Democrats running the Senate, and President Joe Biden in the White House, the presidential election is already underway.

From tax cuts to deregulation, there will be no legislation on core issues that have linked entrepreneurial America and the Republican establishment for decades. This might not be a bad thing, as it allows business to have some leeway while still being able to withstand blows from both the populist left and the populist right.

For example, McCarthy has openly fought with the Chamber of Commerce and its CEO, Suzanne Clark. McCarthy pressured Congress to remove Clark, the group’s first female CEO. Conservative Republicans accuse the chamber of commerce of focusing on progressive causes rather than business interests. of Democratic incumbents.

Separately, House Republicans have threatened financial firms with the power of subpoenas and threatened hearings on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. They also hated corporate leaders speaking out against election naysayers.

So what should mainstream Chamber business types do? Advice from those who know Washington: Keep your head down and buckle up.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, now vice chairman of Teneo, a CEO advisory firm, spoke with a group of business leaders ahead of the election. and spoke of the conflicting pressures companies face on issues such as ESG, diversity and abortion.

Stay away from the fray, he advised. There is no way for corporations to manipulate the populist factions of both parties.

Still, there will come a time when they want or need to clarify their views on the Basic Appropriations Bill and other proposed legislation. Who can they rely on then?

Charles Dent, a former Republican congressman who is now executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Congressional Programs, said, “There is absolutely no concern that the business community will have trouble getting their views across to Republican congressmen. Committee chairs may include Kathy McMorris-Rogers of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Verne Buchanan of Ways and Means, Kay Granger of the Appropriations Committee and Michael McCall of Foreign Affairs. is high.

Republicans need to remember that the business community is deeply concerned about a stable political environment, says Dent. Republicans may feel that Congress owes them allegiance to voting on tax, trade, labor, and regulatory issues. But we also need to recognize that the fear of default, or forcing governments to shut down or voting to revoke the certification of free and fair elections, is bad for business, he said. .

In other words, the Chamber of Commerce and other economic groups have not completely abandoned the Republican Party.

Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington tracks corporate donations to election naysayers and Republican lawmakers who voted against proving President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020. About 220 companies have made that promise, but only 67 have kept it, said Robert Maguire, the group’s head of research.

The House has made no such promises, and its big Republican beneficiaries this year include Rep. , including Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio. The Chamber spent his $230,000 on advertising and ultimately lost.

Maguire said Congressional political spending has declined significantly over the past decade. He spent $35 million in the 2014 election cycle. In 2018 he made $10.9 million. The Chamber of Commerce notes that these figures only reflect spending on cable or broadcast TV advertising in the weeks leading up to the election, and do not include spending on digital advertising. He also notes that he donated $3 million to the Political Action Committee in 2022 to endorse Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz.

The Chamber of Commerce also directly funded at least 16 Republicans this year who voted not to certify the 2020 election. Among these donations is his $5,000 to Kevin McCarthy of California.

Bloomberg Opinion Details:

• Are Republicans and Big Business Heading for a Divide?: David A. Hopkins

• Republicans Opposing Awakening Don’t Understand Climate Change: Liam Denning

• Big Business Can No Longer Rely on the Republican Party: Michael Strain

(Modified last paragraph to note that the House funded 16 members of Congress who voted not to approve the 2020 election. Also updated the penultimate paragraph to state: Include details of other political spending by the House.)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Julianna Goldman is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion and was previously the Washington-based correspondent for CBS News and the White House correspondent for Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Television.

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