After over 100 years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is beginning to see its influence in Congress wane after the group came out in support of Big Tech, leading to many Republicans criticizing the Chamber and its lobbying efforts.
As the New York Post reports, the 110-year-old Chamber of Commerce – once one of the most powerful and influential organizations in the country, particularly on the Republican side – has begun accepting heavy donations from Big Tech platforms, including Facebook, Google, and Amazon. In return, the Chamber has been lobbying against antitrust reform that would threaten the monopoly power that such companies hold over various corners of the Internet.
Over half a dozen staffers, aides, and others involved in the Congressional Republican Party told the Post, anonymously, about the group’s declining influence on Capitol Hill.
“I don’t think the Chamber has much, if any, juice with Republicans now at all,” said one House GOP aide.
“The Chamber of Commerce takes a lot of money from Big Tech and so they diligently do their bidding,” said Mike Davis, a former aide for Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “Today’s conservatives understand that corporate power is oftentimes even more oppressive than government power.”
Although the Chamber has historically been staffed with Republicans, many with former ties to Congress, and has lobbied in support of fiscal conservatism and less government regulation in the past, the group’s application of the same “hands-off” standard to Big Tech has alienated many Republicans, both in Congress and in the popular base.
This discrepancy between the Chamber’s agenda and the desires of Republican voters was greatly highlighted during the presidency of Donald Trump, who called out Big Tech’s frequent and systematic censorship of conservatives. The censorship culminated in President Trump himself being simultaneously banned from all major platforms in the days following the peaceful protests at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021.
Various antitrust efforts in Congress have managed to garner bipartisan support, ranging from establishment Democrats such as Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and progressive leftists such as Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), to Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Congresswomen Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).
This bipartisan support for cracking down on Big Tech has made the Chamber of Commerce’s opposition to such efforts all the more futile, contributing to an even greater decline.
“No one takes them seriously — full stop,” said Garret Ventry, former Chief of Staff for Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colo.). “It’s not that they lost some of their credibility. They lost all of it.”