Chamber of Commerce Urges Senators to Reject Voting Rights Bill

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged U.S. senators to reject a voting reform bill passed by the Democratic House -- and the powerful business lobby warned that it might highlight where they stand on the issue.

In a sharply-worded letter sent on Monday, the Chamber said it strongly opposed the “disingenuously named the ‘For the People Act of 2021.’”

The legislation would make it significantly easier to vote, limit gerrymandering of congressional districts, require third-party groups to reveal secret donors and reform an election watchdog, among other changes. It passed the House, 220 to 210, last month as Republican lawmakers in several states advanced legislation that would impose new rules and restrictions on voting. Proponents of those revisions argue they are necessary to deter voter fraud.

The bill, known as S 1 in the Senate, is unlikely to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster in that chamber, as most Republicans oppose it.

In the letter, which was reported earlier Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal, the Chamber said it “believes it is crucial to democracy to bring more people into the political process. Significant portions of S. 1 are clearly intended to have precisely the opposite effect – pushing certain voices, representing large segments of the electorate and U.S. economy, out of the political process altogether.”

It cited as examples changes to campaign finance law that the Chamber said would impose restrictions on advocating for and against candidates, and a provision that would “transform” the Federal Election Commission “from a non-partisan agency comprised of three commissioners from each party into an overtly partisan enforcement tool controlled by a majority of commissioners from the political party then in power.”

The Chamber said in bold letters that it “will consider including votes related to this bill in our annual How They Voted scorecard.” In early March, the Chamber sent a similar letter to the House before its vote to approve the measure.

The Chamber, whose conservative outlook had long been in line with Republican lawmakers and administrations, differed from Trump administration policies on issues like immigration and trade.

Suzanne Clark, the organization’s new leader, called for bipartisanship in a Bloomberg TV interview in February and said that “we did support more Democrats last year than we have before because they supported our priorities.”

The chamber and its employees gave more than $200,000 to Democratic candidates in 2020, the most since 1992, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But nearly three-quarters of its political donations still went to Republicans.

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