Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Chamber of Commerce makes debt ceiling 'key vote,' urges passage

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Beltway Confidential,Congress,Sean Higgins,Senate,House of Representatives,Debt Ceiling,Analysis,Budgets and Deficits,Government Shutdown,Chambers of Commerce

Big Business demanded Wednesday that Congress support a Senate deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.

In an alert to lawmakers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's top business lobby, said it would make this a "key vote" in how its scores lawmakers.

In other words, if a lawmaker votes against the Senate deal, the chamber will regard this as a seriously anti-business vote and count it toward how "pro-business" the lawmaker is rated in its annual scorecard.

"[D]efault will not contribute to an environment which allows Congress to rein in spending. Groups calling for default are clearly less interested in the Main Street concerns of businesses large and small; these groups overlook the point that a default would result in creditors demanding a premium on US debt, which would greatly exacerbate long term debt, deficit and spending issues. We call on the House, Senate, and administration to avert this crisis," read the alert.

The statement was attributed to Bruce Josten, the chamber's executive vice president for legislative affairs.

The Senate deal announced Wednesday would open the federal government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling through Feb. 7.

It would leave the Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — virtually untouched, except for requiring that those seeking health insurance subsidies verify that they fall within the law's required income levels.

Prior to Wednesday's announcement, the Chamber had not taken an active role in the shutdown fight. Although it publicly opposed the shutdown, it declined to criticize any lawmakers outright and expressed hope that Congress could work everything out. The announcement indicates the shutdown has weakened the Republican Party's traditional strong ties to Big Business.

The announcement also marked a sharp counterpunch against conservative groups like Heritage Action For America and the Club for Growth.

Both groups announced Wednesday that they will make opposing the Senate deal "key votes" in how conservative they will rate lawmakers.

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