House GOP welcomes a new Chamber, declares war against the old one

Household Republicans welcomed to the Capitol on Wednesday a new self-explained “anti-woke” business lobbying team, amplifying their hostility toward the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and broader “environmental, social and company governance” (ESG) motion.

Why it matters: The U.S. Chamber utilized to wield monumental ability in just the GOP as the agent of business pursuits. But the country’s premier lobbying team is now viewed with contempt across substantial swaths of the Republican Celebration.

  • Household Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggests he will never even satisfy with the group if he’s speaker up coming year.
  • The GOP Senate Conference is just not nearly as hostile as the Home. But various high-profile Republican senators, which include Tom Cotton of Arkansas, have been publicly attacking the organization lobby for months.

Driving the news: The Republican Research Committee, the major group of conservatives in the Property, invited leaders of the American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce, to lunch at the Capitol.

  • As Axios first noted, the group is positioning by itself as an alternative to lobbies like the U.S. Chamber, which some Republicans cost have lurched remaining to appease Democrats amid a broader hard work by corporate The us to advocate on challenges this kind of as abortion, voting rights and racial justice.

At the rear of the scenes: The Republican Analyze Committee lunch dialogue turned into a bashing session towards the U.S. Chamber and company ESG.

  • RSC chairman Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who is close to McCarthy, released the new group’s two leaders — its chairman, former Iowa governor and President Trump’s ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, and its CEO Gentry Collins, a former political director of the Republican National Committee.
  • In his introductory remarks, Banks mentioned he was “significantly discouraged with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for supporting woke procedures and enriching China.”

Concerning the lines: Woke is a time period employed to refer to an consciousness of broad injustices in culture that conservatives are progressively employing as a pejorative to criticize liberal beliefs.

Items only got even worse for the Chamber from there as the lunch entered a dilemma-and-answer session with Branstad and Collins.

  • Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) described the corporate ESG motion as a “danger” to The united states that is “undermining American competitiveness” and said the U.S. Chamber “has been corrupted by woke wondering.”
  • Barr told Branstad about his monthly bill, the “Ensuring Audio Assistance (ESG) Act,” which is element of a broader GOP legislative assault towards environmentally friendly investing and other types of socially liable investment. Aspect of the GOP’s objective is to get important financial investment firms to re-embrace fossil fuels.
  • “Amen — I concur with that,” Branstad reported of Barr’s requirement that expense advisers prioritize economic returns over other concerns these types of as sustainability.

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) instructed Branstad and Collins: “Many thanks for organizing an precise American Chamber of Commerce as opposed to this woke Chamber.”

  • Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) contended that the U.S. Chamber experienced opposed adequately securing the southern border and was “flooding our place with inexpensive labor … generally taking work out of the arms of U.S. citizens.”

  • “The place is this new Chamber likely to stand on border safety?” he questioned.
  • Branstad replied they would “stand strong for border stability.”

Branstad was witnessed huddling with Household Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) at the close of the lunch and later on met with McCarthy’s team.

  • Scalise’s main of employees, Brett Horton, claimed very last yr his office environment wished practically nothing to do with the U.S. Chamber. “If the U.S. Chamber despatched me a conference request ideal now, I would not even staff that conference out to an intern, and I will not see that shifting,” Horton reported.
  • The U.S. Chamber’s government vice president Neil Bradley is a former senior Residence GOP management staffer and govt director of the RSC.

The other side: In reaction to this reporting, a U.S. Chamber spokesman instructed Axios:

“Now, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was advocating for boosting domestic power manufacturing and reducing tariffs to curb inflation, combating taxes in the Senate, securing two organization community wins at the Supreme Court docket, and guaranteeing professional-small business champions like [South Carolina GOP] Rep. [Nancy] Mace return to Congress. So I am not confident what these men and women were referring to.”

The base line: The Chamber has remained hugely engaged in Washington in spite of its rocky marriage with Republican management.

  • The $19 million it spent on its federal lobbying procedure in the to start with quarter of 2022 topped the list of all D.C. lobbying spenders, according to OpenSecrets.

Lachlan Markay contributed reporting.