Oct 4, 2021 - Economy

Scoop: U.S. Chamber backs off BIF

The headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is seen across from the White House.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is withdrawing its support of the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill just hours after Punchbowl News reported House Republicans were booting it from its strategy calls, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Chamber's chief policy officer, Neil Bradley, announced the policy shift in a letter to its Board of Directors on Monday. The pretense for his decision: President Biden formally linking the "hard" infrastructure bill with the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package during a meeting with House Democrats on Friday.

Between the lines: The two bills, which are seen as the top priorities in fulfilling Biden's agenda, have long been linked. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has described them as "companion bills."

  • This is the prime reason House Republican leaders have been whipping against the bipartisan bill, despite multiple GOP senators having voted for it in the Senate — including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
  • The Punchbowl News story about the decision to cut the Chamber from its strategy calls was largely seen as a formal rejection of the pro-business organization after months of fraying relations.
  • Many Republicans also have criticized the Chamber for endorsing some Democrats in recent years.

In his letter, obtained by Axios, Bradley pointed specifically to the news the infrastructure bill would not be voted on first.

  • “The events of the last few days make it all the more crucial that everyone across the business community does everything in our power to ensure the reconciliation bill does not pass. While the Chamber believes that passing infrastructure as a stand-alone bill prior to consideration of the reconciliation bill would have enhanced our position, that is no longer a realistic possibility,” Bradley wrote.
  • That's something that also prompted several moderate House Republicans — who'd previously planned to vote in favor of the $1.2 trillion bill — to pull their support.
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