Chamber of Commerce

Rep. Jim Banks

Until 2018 the Chamber of Commerce was considered an essential extension of the Republican Party. For good reason, too: The Chamber is the largest lobbying organization in the country, and during the 2014 midterms over 99% of its donations went to Republicans.

But this cycle the Chamber has given almost 30% of its PAC money to Democrats.

That shift is no mystery. When the GOP embraced President Trump’s agenda it untethered itself from the big business lobby and Wall Street interests.

Republicans are still aggressively pro-market, but, on a few questions, we’ve diverged from the Chamber. Our most important difference is immigration policy.

The Chamber wants amnesty and more immigration, and that won’t change until the laws of supply and demand stop applying to the labor market. Within the GOP, President Trump cemented secure borders and limited immigration as foundational, and House leadership just pledged to oppose all amnesty legislation.

On immigration, Republicans represent American workers’ interests, and business lobbies don’t. So right now there’s little room for compromise, and that’s OK. 

But not all our disagreements can be explained by competing interests. Recently, the Chamber has promoted the left’s anti-family agenda. Republicans can’t put up with that.

The Chamber has repeatedly endorsed the so-called “Equality Act” which would insert gender ideology into federal civil rights law, violating business owner’s conscience rights and exposing them to lawsuits. Those endorsements put radical ideology before the interests of the Chambers’ due paying members. That is crazy. Republicans should work with groups that we disagree with on unrelated policy, but we shouldn’t elevate groups grounded in hostility towards American families. We can’t work with crazy. 

Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce share many of the same goals: lowering taxes, improving workforce training, reducing regulatory burden and protecting workers’ right to choose. And we can work together to achieve them. But Republicans support those policies as means to making American families better off. Tying our wagon to an anti-family organization to lobby against, say, the reconciliation bill would be counterproductive.

As I pointed out last March, President Trump showed Republicans our path to an enduring majority requires permanently becoming a working-class party. That means embracing an agenda that helps the working class — by helping small businesses, securing the border and most of all, by championing strong families. Since Republicans shifted in that direction, we lost the Chamber’s undivided support but gained nine points in the generic ballot and are poised to sweep in 2022.

We may disagree on immigration, but the Chamber should mind its alternative. Today’s Democrat Party is run by true radicals who celebrate confiscatory taxation, and disdain private enterprise. The business lobby shouldn’t fool itself into trying to manage the far left. 

No relationship is perfect, but Republican support for families can’t be compromised. It is the pillar of our party. The Chamber shouldn’t let radical dogma sour a productive relationship. 

  • Rep. Jim Banks

    Congressman Jim Banks was first elected to represent Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District in 2016. Rep. Banks currently serves as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest group of conservative legislators in Washington. Rep. Banks is a native Hoosier, born and raised in Columbia City. Congressman Banks serves in the U.S. Navy Reserve as a Supply Corps officer and in 2014 and 2015, he took a leave of absence from the Indiana State Senate to deploy to Afghanistan.

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