Chamber pleads with Congress to step back from the brink

The powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday urged Congress not to play with fire by risking a government shutdown or federal default.

In a letter to members, the business lobby took direct aim at House Republican plans to use an Oct. 1 shutdown deadline and mid-October debt-ceiling deadline to try to stop the implementation of ObamaCare.

While the Chamber said it agrees that the Affordable Care Act has problems and that entitlement spending needs to be addressed, the group said creating a crisis to force action on those issues is counterproductive. 

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“It is readily apparent none of these important issues are ripe for resolution. We therefore urge the House to act promptly to pass a Continuing Resolution to fund the government and to raise the debt ceiling, and then to return to work on these other vital issues,” wrote Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s top lobbyist.

The letter says the weak state of the overall economy and unemployment picture make it an especially dangerous time to fight over government funding and the debt ceiling.

“It is not in the best interest of the U.S. business community or the American people to risk even a brief government shutdown that might trigger disruptive consequences or raise new policy uncertainties washing over the U.S. economy,” Josten wrote.

The Chamber urged the House to pass a three-month stopgap continuing resolution (CR) at current spending levels.

The letter comes hours before the House Rules Committee is poised to attach a provision defunding ObamaCare to the CR. The amended spending bill is heading for a Thursday or Friday vote in the House and a likely rejection next week by the Senate.

Unless Congress can come to a compromise, agencies will have to shut down on Oct. 1. The White House has ordered agencies to begin to prepare. 

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