Business Groups Preparing to Fight Conservatives over Immigration

Business Groups Preparing to Fight Conservatives over Immigration

Business groups that want Republicans to compromise more with Democrats and Washington’s permanent political class on comprehensive immigration reform may declare war on Tea Party candidates by putting money behind moderate and centrist candidates in Republican primaries.

According to the Wall Street Journal, groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable are thinking about “backing challengers to tea-party conservatives in GOP primaries, increasing political engagement with centrist Republicans.” The Chamber of Commerce is reportedly “researching” what races they can influence in GOP primaries “in hopes of replacing tea-party conservatives with more business-friendly pragmatists” who would include support for comprehensive immigration reform. 

Even before the government shutdown and the fight over defunding Obamacare, business groups “pressing for an immigration overhaul were venting frustration that the full House has been unwilling to consider any immigration legislation.” Reportedly, “several business executives said they were counting on establishment GOP leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, to move immigration and future fiscal legislation.”

Though business groups sill feel a “kinship” with Republicans on “lower taxes and lighter regulations,” they “worry that Congress will now be unable to tackle other big issues on their agenda, including immigration policy.”

Dirk Van Dongen, president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, a trade group, told the Journal that there is “tremendous frustration and angst.” His comments were reflective of those of other executives who believed conservatives were stymying their policy goals. Some, like businessman and GOP donor Norman Braman, even “said he is asking candidates who solicit campaign contributions for their position on immigration and will be reluctant to support those who don’t back a revamp.”

One executive, though, expressed support for the Tea Party in the Journal‘s pages. 

Maurice Taylor, “chairman and CEO of off-road tire maker Titan International Inc.,” said the growth of the federal bureaucracy is “like a cancer it just keeps growing” and hoped conservatives in the House “stick to their guns.” He predicted “the tea party in 2014 is going to be stronger than they’ve ever been.”