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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.

Go deeper

House Democrats to combine 2 key bills in push for voting rights

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a December news conference in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats the House Rules Committee was meeting Wednesday night to combine key provisions of two voting bills and pass the rule before sending it to the Senate for a vote.

Why it matters: Pelosi's announcement in a letter to Democrats comes a day after President Biden called for a change to the Senate's filibuster rules in an effort to pass voting rights legislation.

Jan 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

The Biden agenda is meeting a dead end

President Biden is seen through a TelePrompTer screen on Tuesday as he calls for preserving voting rights. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Voting reform looks as unlikely this year as Build Back Better:

  • Although President Biden is now championing voting protection as the most pressing domestic issue, top Democratic lawmakers see little path to passage of anything like what the party’s base is demanding.

Why it matters: As midterm campaigning ramps up, Biden’s biggest accomplishments could well be in his rear-view mirror.

Jan 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Schumer finds loophole to advance elections reform package

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic leaders have found a mechanism to enable them to bypass an initial Republican filibuster and debate the party's sweeping election reform bills, according to a new leadership memo obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The strategy is the latest example of how Democrats are seeking new ways to try to bypass Senate procedures that are blocking their agenda. But the ultimate outcome will likely be the same: insufficient support to change the 60-vote threshold needed to pass sweeping voting rights reforms.