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Chamber of Commerce wants infrastructure as top priority after COVID-19 relief

Chamber of Commerce wants infrastructure as top priority after COVID-19 relief
© Greg Nash

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business lobbying group, said it wants Congress to tackle infrastructure after passing a long-anticipated but elusive COVID-19 relief package.

The Chamber has lobbied for passage of a new coronavirus relief package and wants to see a $1.7 trillion measure passed during the upcoming lame-duck session. Congressional Democrats and the Trump administration have been at odds for months over the size and scope of a coronavirus bill.

For next year, the Chamber said it is hopeful that an infrastructure package will be the “first order of business,” which can also address climate change and broadband access.

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Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the Chamber, said the group is in communication with “multiple folks” from President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Biden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot MORE's transition team.

“We have been having conversations even before the election with both the Trump team and the Biden team,” he said Monday on a call with reporters. “Everyone we talk to on the Biden team, we get consistent messages about the need to immediately arrest the pandemic, support businesses and families during that period, and then ultimately making investments for the long term.”

President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE has not conceded the race to Biden and instead has focused his energy on mounting legal challenges regarding the vote count in key battleground states.

“We want to see cooperation. We want to see a smooth and easy transition,” Bradley said on Monday.

The traditionally Republican-leaning group has spoken out against Trump’s immigration and trade policies. Bradley noted that a Biden administration has indicated they would reverse some of the executive actions Trump has taken against work-visa holders.

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“We see improvement there. There is still a lot more work that requires Congress’s attention when it comes to immigration,” Bradley said.

He noted that while tensions with China will continue into next year, a Biden administration is expected to take a more multilateral approach.

“We’re likely to see less emphasis on the use of tariffs in disputes. That’s ultimately positive for the economy and for U.S. manufacturers and farmers in particular,” Bradley said. “While a Biden administration might utilize different tools in trying to address these challenges, they will nonetheless be as committed to addressing them.”

When asked about the possibility of a Cabinet that could include progressive Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike House set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package On The Money: Democrats scramble to save minimum wage hike | Personal incomes rise, inflation stays low after stimulus burst MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenExclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren Minimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE (D-Mass.), Bradley responded by saying, “The president-elect has a history of surrounding himself with very competent individuals,” adding that Biden’s nominations are likely to face a Republican-led Senate.

Democrats would need to win both Senate runoff races in Georgia on Jan. 5 to win the majority in the upper chamber.

“The president-elect has a lot of experience in Washington, obviously as vice president and his years in the Senate, and has access to a lot of really qualified, talented individuals that he has worked with in the past,” Bradley added.