Mar 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

U.S. Chamber decides against political ban for Capitol insurrection

A pedestrian is seen passing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters as it undergoes renovation.

A pedestrian passes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters as it undergoes renovation. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed Friday it won't withhold political donations from lawmakers who simply voted against certifying the presidential election results and instead decide on a case-by-case basis.

Why it matters: The Chamber is the marquee entity representing businesses and their interests in Washington. Its memo, obtained exclusively by Axios, could set the tone for businesses debating how to handle their candidate and PAC spending following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Between the lines: The Chamber's use of selective donations frees it to continue supporting some high-profile legislators who earned its endorsement and financial support in prior elections.

  • The organization has previously backed all eight of the senators who voted against certifying President Biden's Electoral College win — including Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas — through either endorsements or contributions from its political action committee.
  • While it hadn't formally paused its political activity following the attack, the Chamber had conducted a review that resulted in its current donation policy.

What they're saying: "We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification," the Chamber's Senior Political Strategist Ashlee Rich Stephenson wrote in the recent memo.

  • "There is a meaningful difference between a member of Congress who voted 'no' on the question of certifying the votes of certain states and those who engaged and continue to engage in repeated actions that undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions."
  • "For example, casting a vote is different than organizing the rally of January 6th or continuing to push debunked conspiracy theories. We will take into consideration actions such as these and future conduct that erodes our democratic institutions."

What to watch: At the end of the first quarter, the Chamber will begin to make donations from its PAC in coordination with its updated policy.

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