Tuesday, January 21, 2014

US Chamber Spent Millions Targeting Tea Party, Immigration

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday said it spent $52.7 million on lobbying in 2013, ramping up pressure for its top-priority legislative issues, including immigration reform and electing business-friendly candidates to Congress, two reports said Tuesday.

Roll Call reported that disclosure forms showed the big-spending business group laid out nearly $16.5 million in the last quarter, a jump of $4,330,000, or 36 percent, from the $12,160,000 it spent in the third quarter, when the organization was ranked as the top-spending U.S. lobby group.

The Hill reported that a significant percentage of the fourth-quarter largesse was funneled into immigration reform, which the chamber championed as a bill passed the Senate. 

The bill stalled in the House. The chamber's pressure on immigration won't stop this year, however.

Chamber President Tom Donohue vowed earlier this month to help put immigration legislation on President Barack Obama's desk by the end of the year. 

"We're determined to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted," he said.

The chamber last year also declared its intention to help "business-friendly" candidates in the coming midterm elections, protecting some incumbents from tea party challengers.

"In primaries and in the general election, we will support candidates who want to work within the legislative process to solve the nation's problems and who understand that business is not the problem, business is a big part of the solution," Donohue said during his annual State of American Business address, The Hill reported.

Chamber spokeswoman Blair Latoff Holmes told The Hill the group's latest quarter included the start of a voter education campaign for the midterm elections.

"The chamber is aggressively engaging early in support of free-enterprise candidates," she said. "Our efforts in the Alabama-01 special election and our TV ads in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Idaho were included in that figure.

"During the quarter we also continued to promote elements of the chamber's policy agenda, which will generate stronger, more robust economic growth and create jobs."

The Hill reported that other legislation the chamber poured money into included the implementation of Dodd-Frank financial reform; defense and veterans affairs spending bills; the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; several pieces of cybersecurity legislation; EPA regulations to stem greenhouse gas emissions; and legislation and oversight of the National Labor Relations Board.
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