You are hereHuffington Post: Lawmakers Backed By Chamber Of Commerce Spending Stall Business Lobby's Legislative Priorities

Huffington Post: Lawmakers Backed By Chamber Of Commerce Spending Stall Business Lobby's Legislative Priorities

-By Paul Blumenthal & Sabrina Siddiqui

August 18, 2013- WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a political powerhouse that tops spending on lobbying in Washington year after year. In the past two elections, the pro-business group doled out $69.5 million to send candidates to Congress.

The checks, however, have not always translated into legislative success.

Over the past 4 1/2 years, the Chamber of Commerce has lost most of its important legislative battles. Health care and Wall Street reform laws were enacted and face little threat of repeal. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finally has an appointed director and Democratic members of the National Labor Relations Board were approved by the Senate.

More significantly, the chamber's big spending in 2010 to elect a House GOP majority appears to have backfired. Many of the conservative lawmakers the chamber helped elect are now an impediment to the business lobby's legislative priorities, either by contributing to Congress' dysfunction or by actively opposing chamber-backed measures.

The chamber has urged Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, arguing an improved immigration system is "essential to continued economic growth." The group launched a seven-figure, pro-immigration reform ad campaign and embraced the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate in June. Standing in Senate bill's way, however, is the conservative wing of the House Republican conference, which opposes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Although chamber-backed candidates are not the most outspoken critics of immigration reform, as ThinkProgress reported last month, 19 House members who received contributions from the chamber's political action committee in 2010 and 2012 have stated their opposition to the Senate immigration bill.

In the Senate, where 14 Republicans voted in favor of the legislation, only four were backed by chamber money. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) received more than $1 million each from the chamber in their 2010 campaigns. All three voted against the immigration bill. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) benefited from almost $750,000 in chamber spending. He also voted against the legislation.

A spokesperson for the chamber did not return a request for comment.



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