After Vowing To Punish Lawmakers Who Shut Down The Government, Business Group Spends Big To Re-Elect Them

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas Donohue CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ JACQUELYN MARTIN
U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas Donohue CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ JACQUELYN MARTIN

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched another wave of television ads in support of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and 12 other Republicans. But much likes its other recent efforts, these expenditures are going to support the very people who have fought against top priorities for the business community the Chamber claims to represent.

The spots, which are tailored to each race, back McConnell, Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY), Dan Benishek (R-MI), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Mike Simpson (R-ID), and David Valadao (R-CA), as well as four Republican House candidates.


But, as Jonathan Salant wrote for Bloomberg’s Political Capital, each of those nine incumbents played a role in shutting down the government last October over the Chamber’s strenuous objections that the move would be “not in the best interest of the employers, employees or the American people.” The shutdown indeed cost the U.S. economy tens of billions of dollars. Afterwards, Chamber’s president and CEO Thomas J. Donohue told CNBC, “It’s the group of people that have hitched their trailer to the tea party name and want to come to Washington and shut down the government and not pay our debts and do that sort of thing, that we’re not going to be supporting.”

Additionally, he promised in January that the group would “make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted” and would make Congressional opponents pay if they did not act. At his annual State of American Business speech in January, Donohue vowed: “If you can’t make them see the light, then at least let’s make them feel the heat. In primaries and in general elections, we will support candidates who want to work within the legislative process to solve the nation’s problems.” But McConnell was one of just 32 Senators who opposed the bipartisan 2013 Senate immigration reform package and has dismissed any chances that a bill will pass in 2014.

Of the others, only Valadao has co-sponsored the House version of the immigration reform proposal — and he has refused to sign the discharge petition needed to circumvent the obstruction of the House leadership. Indeed Gardner and Simpson both use anti-immigrant “amnesty” rhetoric on their websites’ sections on immigration reform.

The Chamber is one of the largest outside spenders in federal elections, nearly all of it going to elect Republicans.

The Chamber’s press team did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress request for comment.