Business & Lobbying

Tom Cotton: Chamber of Commerce is ‘a front service for woke corporations’

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Tuesday slammed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saying the powerful business lobbying organization has lost its way and is siding more often with Democrats and progressive causes.

During an interview with radio show host Hugh Hewitt, the Arkansas Republican said the Chamber cited the Chamber’s decision in 2020 to back numerous Democrats and then endorse Neera Tanden, President Biden’s initial nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

“The Chamber endorsed several liberal Democrats for Congress, and all those liberal Democrats turned around last week, and every single one of them voted for [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s [D-Calif.] radical union bill,” he said, referring to House passage of the PRO Act.

The measure would stiffen penalties for employers who violate workers’ rights, while strengthening protections for employees against retaliation. It would also make changes to the union election process and bolster collective bargaining agreements.

Cotton, who’s considered a potential 2024 presidential contender, continued with his criticism of the Chamber.

“[T]hey often serve, too, as just a front service for woke corporations who are trying to peddle anti-American theories and demanding that their employees get reeducated and indoctrinated on anti-American ideas, like the fact that somehow we’re all terribly racist, or every one of our institutions is racist, and we all need to go to reeducation camps,” Cotton said.

The Chamber responded with a statement saying: “Washington is confused. The U.S. Chamber is proud to work tirelessly to support our members and businesses of every size around the nation and the world. The Chamber is committed to working with pro-free enterprise, pro-business, pro-governing members of Congress in both parties.”

Cotton told Hewitt that he’s not aware of any Republicans “who really listen” to what the Chamber has to say, adding that there are no longer “real Republicans” in its top ranks.

“I mean, the Chamber of Commerce long ago purged most, if not all of its real Republicans in top ranks,” he said.

Hewitt mentioned how the Chamber’s former top political adviser, Scott Reed, was forced out in September. The Chamber said at the time that Reed’s dismissal was tied to breaching confidentially, distorting facts, withholding information from the organization and leaking information to the press.

Cotton’s criticism represents the latest rift between congressional Republicans and the lobbying group traditionally aligned with the GOP. After the Chamber endorsed the group of House Democrats in 2020, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he didn’t want the Chamber’s endorsement, saying they had “sold out.”

Cotton on Tuesday said he prefers to work with other trade groups.

“Often times, the Chamber is captured by its biggest multinational corporations, and they are more in support of those businesses than they are in support of open and competitive markets,” Cotton said, adding that he works closely with the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“As far as I can tell, [the Chamber] mostly just exists to continue to pay the lavish salaries of its executives and give them expense accounts for fancy meals and fund their private jet travel to their luxury condos in South Florida,” Cotton added.

When asked by Hewitt how the Chamber has “gone off the rails” and “gone left,” Cotton offered an analogy from his time in the Army, about how sergeant majors were worried about the growing size of bases.

“[B]ases that had entertainment theaters and gyms and Baskin-Robbins, and they would say this place is a self-licking ice cream cone. It only exists to serve and perpetuate itself. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has become a self-licking ice cream cone,” Cotton said.

Tags Chamber of Commerce Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi Neera Tanden Neera Tanden Tom Cotton Tom Cotton United States Chamber of Commerce

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