Republicans Lose Business Allies As They Push U.S. Toward Shutdown


Chamber of CommerceBig business has often been a strong ally for Republican lawmakers, as groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and Fix the Debt have pushed for austerity to reduce the deficit and opposed the Affordable Care Act. But as the country faces the possibility of the government shutting down on Monday at midnight if Congress doesn’t pass a continuing resolution to fund it and keep it open, a variety of business leaders have come out against the Republicans’ strategy of holding the bill hostage to their demands. Here are some of those who are typically allies who are worried about what will happen if the government shuts down:

1. The Chamber of Commerce: While the Chamber has been a Republican ally on deficit reduction through spending cuts and opposition to the Affordable Care Act, it is not interested in getting there through either a government shutdown or default on federal debt. It sent a letter to members of Congress two weeks ago pushing them to resolve both impasses quickly and cleanly. Noting that the issues Republicans have made demands over, such as defunding or delaying Obamacare or cutting spending, are not “ripe for resolution,” the letter said, “We therefore urge the House to act promptly to pass a Continuing Resolution to fund the government and to raise the debt ceiling, and then to return to work on these other vital issues.” It added, “It is not in the best interest of the U.S. business community or the American people to risk even a brief government shutdown that might trigger disruptive consequences or raise new policy uncertainties washing over the U.S. economy.”

2. The Business Roundtable: The group, which represents some of the country’s largest companies, released a report around the same time as the Chamber’s letter that showed that almost half of major American companies are likely to slow their hiring thanks to fights over funding the government and raising the debt ceiling. While it says it is not picking political sides, the group’s chairman, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, has said, “We want leaders to lead and compromises to be found, because not doing that would have a serious impact on the economic growth of this country.”

3. Wall Street: Markets looked jittery on Monday morning and the Dow was down 100 points as the possibility of a shutdown loomed, and the S&P 500 stock index was down for four of the five trading days last week. As Nathaniel Popper reports at the New York Times, investors fear that the fight over funding the government foreshadows even worse outcomes when Congress faces the need to raise the debt ceiling. A failure to lift it could mean the U.S. defaulting on its debt obligations, potentially setting off devastating consequences for the bond market and the global economy.