The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will literally double down in its efforts to crush the Tea Party to get legislation–like a comprehensive amnesty bill and the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank–that it covets.
After budgeting $50 million to elect establishment-friendly candidates in the 2014 election cycle, the chamber will reportedly spend as much as $100 million in the 2016 election cycle to crush conservatives. According to a Roll Call report, some of the group’s “top targets in 2016 will be right-wing, tea party candidates” who have opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants, Obamatrade, and reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.
The Chamber of Commerce’s ultimate goal is to reportedly win back “the soul of the Republican Party” by electing more establishment Republicans “in contested primaries to strengthen their hand during policy debates on the Hill.”
Scott Reed, the group’s top strategist, told Roll Call that “the gang that wants to shut down the government, that’s a clear contrast to what the business community agrees is best for economic growth.” He added that the “the chamber is now operating in a 24-month cycle” and “this the earliest we’ve ever spent money.”
As Roll Call acknowledged, news of the chamber’s plans came days after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that he would resign from Congress, which has made “conservatives believe they have new wind at their backs now after scoring a major win.” The Chamber will also be playing in an election environment in which anti-establishment and non-politician candidates are getting the majority of the votes in nearly every state and national presidential poll by running against the permanent permanent political class whose interests align with the chamber’s.
No other issue represents the divide between the permanent political class and Main Street than comprehensive amnesty legislation. And Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue has made it clear in no uncertain terms that his group covets a comprehensive amnesty bill. Donahue openly revealed in 2014 that he hoped that Congress could pass a massive bipartisan amnesty bill as the final act of the lame-duck Congress and even semi-seriously declared that Republicans should not even bother to try to win the White House in 2016 without having passed amnesty legislation.
“If the Republicans don’t do it [pass immigration reform], they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016,” Donohue said.
During the 2014 election cycle, the Chamber of Commerce, which often supports things like Common Core that conservatives loathe, helped establishment Republican Senators like Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) fend off primary challengers, which led CNN to declare that the group “has planted itself firmly on the front line of the GOP establishment’s push to extinguish tea party ideologues wherever they threaten business-backed candidates.”
The Chamber of Commerce and establishment Republicans know that Tea Party conservatives are their biggest obstacles to ramming through legislation like a comprehensive amnesty bill. During the 2014 election cycle, Donohue declared that he wanted the Tea Party to “feel the heat,” and all indications point to the chamber trying to turn up the heat even more on conservative insurgents during an election cycle in which the Washington establishment is losing momentum.