The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is calling on President Donald Trump and Congress to resolve their dispute that has kept the federal government partly shut down for almost three weeks and stop “governing by crisis.”
Thomas Donohue, the chamber’s president, is to deliver his annual address on American business on Thursday and proposes “a reasonable solution” on immigration that involves protection for so-called Dreamers, young undocumented migrants brought to the U.S. as children, and allocating “resources necessary to secure the border,” according to excerpts of his prepared remarks.
“Governing by crisis is no way to do the nation’s business,” Donohue says in the prepared remarks. “Our leaders must responsibly fulfill their duties. And not just because it’s their job to do so, but because dysfunction saps confidence, threatens growth, and consequently poses a threat to opportunity in this country.”
With the North American Free Trade Agreement now renegotiated, Donohue will also call for its approval by Congress and for the Trump administration to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed on Canada and Mexico “in the heat of negotiations.” He’ll also renew the chamber’s call for the enactment of a major package to upgrade U.S. roads, bridges, and other public works.
The chamber is also launching “an aggressive and comprehensive new campaign” to protect businesses that includes regulatory and legislative changes to make it easier for firms to go and stay public, according to the excerpts.
The chamber has been largely supportive of many of the Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton’s efforts to bolster capital markets and attempts by lawmakers to make raising money for new ventures less burdensome.
The speech comes as the partial federal shutdown enters its 20th day with no clear end in sight, as Trump insists on funding for a wall on the Mexican border that congressional Democrats oppose. The chamber sent a letter to members of Congress on Tuesday urging a quick agreement with the administration to reopen the government and stop impeding business nationwide.
The chamber will fight for protection for Dreamers and people from countries such as El Salvador who are in the U.S. legally because of civil turmoil or natural disasters at home, as well as securing the border, Donohue says in the excerpts—which don’t specifically address funding for a wall.
“The chamber’s agenda for 2019 and beyond is built around this simple idea -— to harness our new-found economic strength, do everything we can to keep it going, and put it to work on behalf of all Americans who hope for a shot at their own unique American dream,” Donohue adds.
The chamber, the largest U.S. business lobby, was in sync with the White House in 2017 on tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks. But it has clashed with the Trump administration on trade, especially its use of tariffs on imports of metals and Chinese products.
The organization also pushed to ensure that a renegotiated Nafta included both Canada and Mexico in the face of Trump’s threats to withdraw from the pact. The new agreement, Donohue says in the excerpts, must be approved and eliminating the metal tariffs “would be an encouraging sign for all of our partners, including those we’re pursuing new market-opening agreements with.”
The chamber supports the administration’s negotiations with China to address allegations of intellectual property theft and other unfair trade practices, but “what we we don’t support is a trade war, which is being waged through mounting tariffs,” Donohue says.
China and the U.S. wrapped up three days of trade talks on Wednesday, with officials from the world’s two largest economies expressing optimism that progress has been made after Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a truce in their trade conflict until March 1.
The chamber is also renewing its push from last year to get Congress and Trump to enact a major public-works package to address what the American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated is an additional $2 trillion required by 2025 to improve U.S. infrastructure to a B grade from D+.
“Nearly everyone agrees that investing in our infrastructure is a major national priority—what’s missing is a sense of urgency,” Donohue says in his excerpted remarks. “Things are only going to get worse, which is why we are calling on our leaders to pass a significant infrastructure package this year.”
While Democrats now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives are pledging to enact a major public works bill and Trump promised during his 2016 presidential campaign to deliver a $1 trillion package, his plan stalled in Congress last year and there’s no consensus on how to pay for new spending.
Last year, the group called for raising federal fuel taxes by 25 cents during the next five years as the simplest, fairest and most straightforward way to raise more money as alternative sources of revenue are developed.
Donohue also will vow to oppose calls by some Democrats for “government-run, single-payer health care” and continue pushing for a federal data law that “will protect consumer privacy and promote innovation,” according to the excerpts.