Business Lobby Risks Clash With Trump on Trade, Immigration


    Chamber’s Donohue warns on Nafta withdrawal, D.C. dysfunction

    Group more aligned with White House on infrastructure plan


By Ben Brody and Mark Niquette, Bloomberg

January 10, 2018


Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue called for pro-trade policy and immigration changes and warned against dysfunction in Washington, setting up the largest business lobby for potential conflict with the White House over the best path for growth.


After finding common cause in 2017 with President Donald Trump on tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks, the powerful conservative business group could part ways with the White House on key issues including trade and the midterm elections.


“A major mistake in Washington -- such as withdrawal from Nafta or defaulting on our debt -- would undermine our growth," he said during his annual speech on the state of American business Wednesday. "An upheaval in our government would sap confidence, stoke uncertainty and stymie progress on a pro-growth agenda.”


The chamber is at odds with the Trump administration over threats to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and actions to do away with protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.


Donohue also warned against a “backlash against major tech companies” generated by what he called regulatory overreach that he said could stifle innovation.


The group, which is one of Washington’s highest-spending in lobbying and election campaigns, is more in sync with the White House on the need to improve the country’s crumbling highways, bridges and other infrastructure.


"We cannot build a 21st century economy on 20th century infrastructure," Donohue said.


His speech comes as congressional leaders continue to negotiate on a government spending bill before a Jan. 19 deadline. A key issue is the status of approximately 800,000 people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The chamber is leading a coalition calling for an agreement that would protect the so-called dreamers, who face deportation under Trump’s decision to end an Obama-era program that shielded them.


He acknowledged the chamber still has differences with the White House on the issue, despite a public meeting Trump held with congressional leaders Tuesday.


Immigration Overhaul ...


Nafta Talks ...


Better Deals ...


Upgrade Infrastructure ...


more, including links, video