Chamber hopes for focus on infrastructure, trade in State of the Union

Chamber hopes for focus on infrastructure, trade in State of the Union
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The Chamber of Commerce would like to hear President TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE discuss infrastructure, innovation and work force issues in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, the influential business advocacy group said Monday.

This year's speech comes sandwiched between Monday night's Iowa caucuses and an expected vote in the Senate on Wednesday to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial. But Neil Bradley, Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer, said he hopes the focus is on policy in the president's speech.

“It's not lost on us that tonight the first votes in the 2020 elections will be cast and there’s plenty for Republicans and Democrats to argue about on the campaign trail. They should stick to that arguing on that campaign trail,” Bradley told reporters.

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He said that while the typical assumption is that Washington gets nothing done in election years, “that can’t be the attitude that our elected leaders take. We have a lot of problems that need addressing.”

The Chamber, which has historically been Republican-leaning, has been pushing for bipartisan action in Congress on a number of high-profile items, which CEO Thomas Donohue focused on in his annual State of American Business address in January.

Bradley said they want to see “a focus on how we’re going to bridge the partisan divide” in Tuesday’s address.

He said that the Chamber is in regular contact with the administration about the policy issues they want Trump to focus on. 

On infrastructure, Bradley touted a bipartisan proposal in the Senate, and separate efforts by House Democrats and Republicans on their own bills.

“Frankly, while a lot of people would be surprised if an infrastructure bill would be enacted in 2020, I wouldn’t be particularly surprised because the pieces are there,” he said.

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Trade is also high on the Chamber's agenda, amid speculation that Trump may seek to announce additional tariffs. Bradley said the focus should be on restoring trade.

He acknowledged that China is "appropriately" focused on the coronavirus outbreak now, which could delay negotiations on the next round of U.S. and China talks.

“I hope that we are back at the table and getting a 'phase two' deal done as soon as humanly possible,” he said.