U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Suzanne Clark defended the group’s endorsement of vulnerable House Democrats in 2020, in comments to Axios on HBO on Sunday.
Those Democrats “had really helped push business’s number one priority, which was the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, over the finish line,” Clark said. However, “All of the Republicans that we work with on tax, on regulation, those people are really, really important to us….So we have to be willing to have a different coalition on every issue.”
Clark insisted that the chamber has maintained good relations with both Democrats and Republicans, even though members of the GOP have criticized the chamber in recent months over its newfound embrace of Democrats.
“You asked me how I felt about our relationships on the Hill, and I said ‘strong,'” Clark told Axios‘s Mike Allen. “I’m sticking with it….I’m not having the same conversations.”
Clark’s comments come despite open disillusionment with the chamber among Republicans in Congress. Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) noted in March that the chamber endorsed Neera Tanden for the Office of Management and Budget, despite her history of attacking the organization, as well as several Democrats who voted for a pro-union bill known as the PRO Act.
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has become a self-licking ice cream cone,” Cotton said on an episode of The Hugh Hewitt Show. “As far as I can tell, it mostly just exists to continue to pay the lavish salaries of its executive and give them expense accounts for fancy meals and fund their private jet travel to their luxury condos in South Florida.”
Critics of the Chamber’s recent leftward turn have also pointed out that the strategy didn’t help the group in its efforts to push back on the raft of new spending proposals put forward by the Biden administration, which will total roughly $6 billion should the president’s infrastructure proposal pass.