Chamber to 'pull out all the stops' to pass immigration reform in 2014
January 8th, 2014
11:43 AM ET
7 months ago

Chamber to 'pull out all the stops' to pass immigration reform in 2014

Updated 4:42 p.m. ET, 1/8/2014

Washington (CNN) - The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce vowed Wednesday that 2014 will be the year his organization pulls "out all of the stops" to pass immigration reform, pledging that the Chamber will turn the 2014 midterm elections "into a motivation for change."

"We're determined to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted," Donohue said at his 2014 State of American Business address. "The Chamber will pull out all the stops – through grassroots lobbying, communications, politics and partnerships with unions, faith organization, law enforcement and other – to get it done."

Donohue refuted the idea that immigration reform would not pass in 2014, a midterm election year when very little, if anything, gets done on Capitol Hill.

"We hope to turn that assumption on its ear," he said. "It's based on a simple theory: If you can't make them see the light, then at least make them feel some heat."

Immigration reform, despite passing the Senate in June and being named one of President Barack Obama's top priorities for his second term, has seen very little movement in the House of Representatives.

Late last year, House Speaker Boehner insisted that while immigration reform was "absolutely not" dead, he had "no intention" of negotiating with the Democratic-led Senate over its comprehensive immigration proposal.

Many Republicans in Congress who oppose the Senate plan – which includes an eventual pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States – have said they want to deal with immigration reform through a number of smaller bills, not one larger piece of legislation. Boehner has said he backs that approach.

Some Republicans vigorously oppose the efforts by such groups as the Chamber pushing the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate. They argue it would double the number of guest workers and legalize 11 million illegal immigrants adding more to the nation’s work force. Some Republicans also believe this type of reform will drive down wages and lead to more unemployment.

“The President says people are worried ‘the system is rigged’ and yet it is the President who has teamed up with a small cadre of CEOs to double the flow of immigrant workers when these exact same companies are laying off American workers in drove,” Sen. Jeff Sessions Republican on the Judiciary Committee has previously said.

Donohue's remarks highlight how the Chamber of Commerce plans to be an aggressive player in the 2014 midterm elections and how immigration reform is set to be at the center of those plans.

A source with knowledge of the Chamber's election plans told CNN that the group is set to spend "at least $50 million" in the 2014 midterms. The group has already spent money in four midterms races, according to the source: defending House Republican Mike Simpson of Idaho, supporting Shelly Moore Capito in West Virginia's Senate race, backing Evan Jenkins, a Democrat-turned-Republican challenging Democrat Nick Rahall in West Virginia, and supporting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, who is facing a tea party challenger.

The source said the group will "spend early to help set the terms of the debate." In his speech, Donohue said the group will be active in at least half a dozen races and "will support candidates who want to work within the legislative process to solve the nation's problems."

The Chamber, which has long been reliably Republican, played a major role in a 2013 special election in Alabama, helping Republican Bradley Byrne, a former state senator, defeat businessman Dean Young, a tea party backed candidate.

After the speech, at a press conference with reporters, Donohue said "thank God" that Bryne won in Alabama.

Donohue said that the Chamber was primarily against candidates who plan to come to Washington and "burn down the town," not specifically against tea party backed lawmakers.

One reason the Chamber has seemed to step up its election plans is because of the 16 day government shutdown that gripped Washington in 2013 and highlighted the dysfunction on Capitol Hill. The Chamber was vocally against the shutdown and in his Wednesday speech, Donohue said the group would look to "expand a pro-business majority in the House" in 2014, a nod to the fact the Chamber worried about their influence on House Republicans after the shutdown.

As to whether the Chamber will challenge lawmakers that they feel had gone against business interests, Donohue was non-committal, but with a laugh, he said it "sounds like a good idea."


Filed under: Chamber of Commerce • Immigration
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Karen

    Bradley Byrne is against immigration reform, so the Chamber wasted its money.

    I say let's boycott the Chamber of Corruption. They don't believe in US workers.

    January 8, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. CryBabies

    Immigration reform through passing a series of smaller bills....good idea. We saw what jamming one ill conceived and ineptly drafted healthcare bill was like. Perhaps ,if we could keep Nancy Pelosi out of the process, some common sense would be infused into the works.

    January 8, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. Educate Yourselves

    Running short of minimum wage employees? Tired of being sued for hiring illegal aliens? There must be a good reason for this.

    January 8, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    The Chamber of Commerce is a political arm of the republican party. I guess republicans in the House didn't get the memo.

    January 8, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  5. Gurgyl

    USA needs strict immigration policies. It needs to restrict visas too. Go to NJ, it is like a third world up there. So is NC. USA better stop acting for votes.

    January 8, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    If Republicans are being honest, and seriously prefer a piece meal approach to immigration, then why is it that they have failed to propose one piece of legislation in that direction? Why is it that they have yet to even describe what the first piece to the puzzle might be?

    All we are the usual talking points. "Enforce the laws we have on the books." Meanwhile, the House cuts the budgets for those agencies that would enforce said laws, and the Senate filibusters appoints to those same agencies.

    "Secure the border." Whatever that battle cry means, the Republicans have yet to tell us how to measure it, so that we can actually know when we have crossed the threshold and have a "secure border." And the list of meaningless battle cries goes on.

    January 8, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "If Republicans are being honest"

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! You're killin' me Rudy.

    "Running short of minimum wage employees? Tired of being sued for hiring illegal aliens? There must be a good reason for this."

    There are certainly explanations, but in light of it being the Chamber of Commerce, a shill organization for the GOP/Teatrolls and the plutocrats that own them, I would be very careful about calling them "good" reasons.

    January 8, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "We saw what jamming one ill conceived and ineptly drafted healthcare bill was like."

    What was "jammed" about the Senate bill that was negotiated, drafted and passed in an entirely bipartisan manner?

    January 8, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    ""Secure the border." Whatever that battle cry means,"

    Teatroll Rosetta Stone says: "We need an excuse for fighting to organize immigration reform so it has a loophole that allows us to prevent these people from becoming voting citizens."

    Hence...the "trigger" demands.

    January 8, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. Harold Peters

    The US Chamber of Commerce should be tried for treason for pushing Amnesty for criminal immigrants. US Laws are already in place to properly manage legal and lawful immigration. The politicians and people who cater to criminal immigrants are committing conspiracy against the United States and should be dealt with accordingly.

    January 8, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "The US Chamber of Commerce should be tried for treason for pushing Amnesty for criminal immigrants"

    FYI – Illegal immigration is a civil matter, not criminal.

    January 8, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. Smitty

    I say pull out all the stops and have the BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR WINNER tell the truth, on anything !!!!

    January 8, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. rs

    This could get mighty interesting if the GOP creates its own "wedge" issue with the Chamber. Really? The GOP separate from the business community?

    January 8, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    This is all just part of the "outreach" false face that the right wing wants to wear. Recall how in 2010 they campaigned on 'jobs, jobs, jobs', and once they got into office they launched into a nationwide, radical right wing, social engineering agenda? Don't be fooled, again.

    Last time it was jobs. This time it's immigration. "Oh, yeah. We'll do it, if the Democrats would only let us do it our way."

    January 8, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Blammy

    There's one test you can apply to this pursuit to judge whether it's good for the American worker or not:
    "The Chamber of Commerce is for it."
    There's your test-it's bad for American jobs, American wages, American life.
    This is similar to the test of "Is Grover Norquist for it?"
    If so, it's gotta be bad for the American citizen.

    January 8, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Harold Peters

    Sniffit: Plain and simple = criminal immigrants broke the law.

    January 8, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Mormon Magical Underwear

    To help illegal Mexicans is a slap in the face to all American Workers and Taxpayers. The illegal Mexicans deserve nothing but deportation for stealing from the American People, Deport them all kids, women ,the elderly not exceptions they all need to go

    January 8, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. mike

    immigration reform is slang for "middle class destruction".

    January 8, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy observed
    Recall how in 2010 they campaigned on 'jobs, jobs, jobs', and once they got into office they launched into a nationwide, radical right wing, social engineering agenda? Don't be fooled, again.

    Last time it was jobs. This time it's immigration. "Oh, yeah. We'll do it,
    -------------------------------------------------
    Exactly Rudy!!
    Don't be fooled again by these trolls who want nothing but to gain control of the Senate and keep control of the House in order to give us the ONLY thing they will give us which is not a damn thing!
    They are trying to sucker us in like they did in 2010, and they don't care what they have to say or promise to get us to vote in more do-nothing, greedy, "burn the town down" nutjobs.
    A vote for a Republican in 2014 and 2016 is a vote against America.
    Period.

    January 8, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  20. BigJolie

    Oh our own gov cuts our throats.
    Thanks Obama!

    January 8, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Sounds like a desperate attempt to attract minority voters.

    January 8, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. Mr. Realistic

    Mr. Donohue's motivation is to secure cheap labor for his members. He doesn't care about anything else. Lawncare is the same as healthcare.

    January 8, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The Chamber needs to cut the bull and get rid Of the Guns Over People tea potty domestic terrorists in Nov. They are bragging about destroying the full faith and credit of America in Feb.

    January 8, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |