United States Chamber of Commerce
The United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) is an American lobbying
Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals or corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or...

 group representing the interests of many business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

es and trade association
Trade association
A trade association, also known as an industry trade group, business association or sector association, is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry...

s. It is not an agency of the United States government.

The Chamber is staffed with policy specialists, lobbyists and lawyers. Politically, the Chamber is generally considered to be a conservative organization. It usually supports Republican political candidates, though it has occasionally supported conservative Democrats. The Chamber is one of the largest lobbying groups in the U.S., spending more money than any other lobbying organization on a yearly basis.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's own history of itself describes it as originating from an April 22, 1912 meeting of delegates. The Chamber was created by President Taft
William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States and later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States...

 as a counterbalance to the labor movement
Labor history of the United States
The labor history of the United States describes the history of organized labor, as well as the more general history of working people, in the United States. Pressures dictating the nature and power of organized labor have included the evolution and power of the corporation, efforts by employers...

 of the time.

The Chamber generally tries to maintain amicable relationships with both parties. For instance, the Chamber supported both Ronald Reagan's tax cuts and Bill Clinton's NAFTA efforts. In 1993 the Chamber lost several members over its support for Clinton's healthcare reform efforts. The Chamber had chosen to support healthcare reform at that time due to the spiraling healthcare costs experienced by its members. However, House Republicans retaliated by urging boycotts of the organization. The Chamber operated its own cable television station, Biz-Net until 1997 in order to promote its policies. The Chamber shifted somewhat more to the right when Tom Donahue became head of the organization in 1997. By the time health care reform became a major issue again in 2010, the organization opposed such efforts.

More than 90 years later, the Chamber claims a direct membership of 300,000 businesses, and 3 million through its various affiliates such as state and local chambers. Some of the Chamber’s members and donors are Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is an American multinational bulge bracket investment banking and securities firm that engages in global investment banking, securities, investment management, and other financial services primarily with institutional clients...

, Chevron
Chevron Corporation
Chevron Corporation is an American multinational energy corporation headquartered in San Ramon, California, United States and active in more than 180 countries. It is engaged in every aspect of the oil, gas, and geothermal energy industries, including exploration and production; refining,...

, Texaco
Texaco is the name of an American oil retail brand. Its flagship product is its fuel "Texaco with Techron". It also owns the Havoline motor oil brand....

, and Aegon
Aegon N.V. is one of the world’s largest life insurance and pension groups, and a strong provider of investment products. Aegon's head office is in The Hague, Netherlands...


The US Chamber is different from local and state chambers of commerce located in many cities, towns
- People :* Anthony Towns , computer programmer* Charles B. Towns American an expert on alcoholism and drug addiction* Colin Towns , English composer...

 and states
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 nationwide. The US Chamber focuses on nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

al issues on the federal government
Federal government
The federal government is the common government of a federation. The structure of federal governments varies from institution to institution. Based on a broad definition of a basic federal political system, there are two or more levels of government that exist within an established territory and...

 level. Local and state chambers of commerce are independently started and operated organizations. Local chambers focus on local
Local usually refers to something nearby, or in the immediate area.It may be used in many ways, some of which are related to this general meaning, others which are not:* Local, local anesthesia* Local, a.k.a. union local or local union* Local, a.k.a...

 issues, and state chambers on state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...


The Washington, DC headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce occupies land that was formerly the home of Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...


On the issues

The Chamber's positions include:
  • Supports the Stop Online Piracy Act
    Stop Online Piracy Act
    The Stop Online Piracy Act , also known as H.R.3261, is a bill that was introduced to the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by Representative Lamar Smith and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill expands the ability of U.S...

     or SOPA legislation
  • Supports corporate globalization/free trade
    Free trade
    Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

     and outsourcing
    Outsourcing is the process of contracting a business function to someone else.-Overview:The term outsourcing is used inconsistently but usually involves the contracting out of a business function - commonly one previously performed in-house - to an external provider...

  • Opposes financial regulation
  • Opposes the DISCLOSE Act
    The Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act, commonly known as the DISCLOSE Act and also known as H.R. 5175 , was a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Chris Van Hollen on April 29, 2010 and in the U.S...

    , which aims to limit foreign influence on U.S. elections
  • Opposes healthcare reform and the Affordable Health Care for America Act
    Affordable Health Care for America Act
    The Affordable Health Care for America Act was a bill that was crafted by the United States House of Representatives in November 2009. At the encouragement of the Obama administration, the 111th Congress devoted much of its time to enacting reform of the United States' health care system...

      The Chamber recognizes that health care reform is necessary, but disagrees that the Affordable Health Care for American Act is the answer. Market based solutions and action to curtail frivolous and predatory lawsuits would help to reduce the costs of health care.
  • Opposes action on climate change
    Global warming
    Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

      The Chamber recognizes that climate change is real. The question is how much of it is driven by mankind and what, if anything can be done about it. The Chamber wants a reasoned approach to this issue that takes into account the economic impact of climate decisions.
  • Supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
    American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, abbreviated ARRA and commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act, is an economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February 2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009, by President Barack Obama.To...

  • Neutral on social questions such as abortion
    Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

     and gay marriage
  • Campaigned against portions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
    Sarbanes-Oxley Act
    The Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 , also known as the 'Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act' and 'Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act' and commonly called Sarbanes–Oxley, Sarbox or SOX, is a United States federal law enacted on July 30, 2002, which...

  • Argued a case all the way to the Supreme Court opposing mandatory immigration status checks by employers in Arizona
  • Supported corporate personhood
    Corporate personhood
    Corporate personhood is the status conferred upon corporations under the law, which allows corporations to have rights and responsibilities similar to those of a natural person. There is a question about which subset of rights that are afforded to natural persons should also be afforded to...

     and allowing corporations to spend unlimited sums on electioneering via an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United v FEC
    Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
    Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, , was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court holding that the First Amendment prohibits government from censoring political broadcasts in candidate elections when those broadcasts are funded by corporations or unions...

    . Its position is opposed by some advocates for independent businesses


The Chamber has emerged as the largest lobbying
Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals or corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or...

 organization in America. It spent $91.7 million on lobbying in 2008, and $144.5 million in 2009, up from $18.7 million in 2000. The Chamber's lobbying expenditures in 2009 were five times as high as the next highest spender: Exxon Mobil, at $27.4 million. The Chamber had more than 150 lobbyists from 25 different firms working on its behalf in 2009. The major issues that it advocated on were in the categories of torts, government issues, finance, banking and taxes.

International network

As of October 2010, the Chamber had a worldwide network of 115 American Chamber of Commerce affiliates located in 108 countries. The US Chamber says that a “relative handful” of the Chamber’s 300,000 members are “non-U.S.-based (foreign) companies.” It adds that, “No foreign money is used to fund political activities.” A US Chamber executive has said that the organization has had “foreign multinationals” (foreign companies) as members for “over a century, many for decades.” The US Chamber states that it receives approximately $100,000 annually in membership dues from its foreign affiliates.

Electoral activities

In the 2008 election cycle, aggressive ads paid for by the USCC attacked a number of Democratic congressional candidates (such as Minnesota's DFL
Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
The Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party is a major political party in the state of Minnesota and the state affiliate of the Democratic Party. It was created on April 15, 1944, with the merger of the Minnesota Democratic Party and the Farmer–Labor Party...

 Senate candidate Al Franken
Al Franken
Alan Stuart "Al" Franken is the junior United States Senator from Minnesota. He is a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which affiliates with the national Democratic Party....

) and supported a number of Republican candidates including John Sununu
John E. Sununu
John Edward Sununu is a former Republican United States Senator from New Hampshire, of Lebanese and Palestinian Christian ancestry. Sununu was the youngest member of the Senate for his entire six year term. He is the son of former New Hampshire Governor John H...

, Gordon Smith, Roger Wicker
Roger Wicker
Roger Frederick Wicker is the junior U.S. Senator from Mississippi and a member of the Republican Party. In December 2007 he was appointed by Governor Haley Barbour to fill the seat vacated by Trent Lott. He subsequently won the 2008 special election for the remainder of the term. Wicker served...

, Saxby Chambliss
Saxby Chambliss
Clarence Saxby Chambliss, Jr. is the senior United States Senator from Georgia. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as a U.S. Representative ....

 and Elizabeth Dole
Elizabeth Dole
Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford "Liddy" Dole is an American politician who served in both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidential administrations, as well as a United States Senator....


During the 2010 campaign cycle, the Chamber spent $32 million, 93 percent of which was to help Republican candidates. The Chamber's spending out of its general funds was criticized as illegal under campaign finance laws. In a front-page article titled "Large Donations Aid U.S. Chamber in Election Drive", The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

reported that the Chamber used contributions in campaigns without separating foreign and domestic contributions. This is illegal because foreign nations and groups are not allowed to monetarily lobby in the U.S. In question was the Chamber's international branches, “AmChams”, whose funds are unaccounted for and perhaps mix into the general collection. All branches, corporations, and members of the Chamber pay dues; the question is how they divide the money for expenses in national campaigns.

The truth of these allegations is unknown, as neither the Chamber nor its detractors can provide any concrete evidence to support or refute the allegations. In reference to the matter, Tom Donohue wrote his council and members on October 12, 2010. He stated, “Let me be clear. The Chamber does not use any foreign money to fund voter education activities—period. We have strict financial controls in place to ensure this. The funds we receive from American Chambers of Commerce abroad, bilateral business councils, and non-U.S. based global companies represent a small fraction of our more than $200 million annual revenues. Under our accounting system, these revenues are never used to support any political activities. We are in full compliance with all laws and regulations.” Organizations Moveon.org, Think Progress, and People for the American Way
People For the American Way
People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy group in the United States. Under U.S. tax code, People For the American Way is organized as a tax-exempt 501 non-profit organization.-Purpose:...

 rallied against the Chamber at the Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 to start an injunction for a criminal investigation. As of yet, the Justice Department has not taken any inquiries as a serious legal threat. The Chamber is not required to produce records of its coffers or fundraising.

President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 and other legislators asked the IRS and Federal Elections Commission to ensure that the foreign funds that the Chamber receives are not used for political activities. Obama criticized the Chamber for not disclosing its contributors. The Chamber has responded that “No foreign money is used to fund political activities.” After the election, the Chamber reiterated the nature of Obama's policy dictated action from the Chamber, however the conflict would not be made "personal".

In addition to the expenditures from the Chamber's own funds, in 2010 its political action committee
Political action committee
In the United States, a political action committee, or PAC, is the name commonly given to a private group, regardless of size, organized to elect political candidates or to advance the outcome of a political issue or legislation. Legally, what constitutes a "PAC" for purposes of regulation is a...

 gave $29,000 (89 percent) to Republican candidates and $3,500 (11 percent) to Democratic candidates. The Chamber's PAC received a total of 76 donations from individual donors ($200 or more donation) totaling $79,852 in 2007-2008, or an average of three donations per month.


In April 2009, the Chamber began an ad campaign against the proposed Employee Free Choice Act
Employee Free Choice Act
The Employee Free Choice Act was a legislative bill that was introduced into both chambers of the U.S. Congress on March 10, 2009. The bill's purpose was to,...

. Critics such as the National Association of Manufacturers
National Association of Manufacturers
The National Association of Manufacturers is an advocacy group headquartered in Washington, D.C. with 10 additional offices across the country...

 have contended that additional use of card check elections will lead to overt coercion on the part of union organizers. Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act also claim, referring to perceived lack of access to a secret ballot, that the measure would not protect employee privacy. For this reason the Chamber argued the act would reduce workers' rights.

The Chamber threatened to sue the Environmental Protection Agency in order to have a hearing on climate science before any federal climate regulation is passed in October 2009. In response to this position, several companies quit the Chamber, including Exelon Corp
Exelon Corporation is an electricity generating and distributing company headquartered in the Chase Tower in the Chicago Loop area of Chicago. It was created in October, 2000 by the merger of PECO Energy Company and Unicom, of Philadelphia and Chicago respectively. Unicom owned Commonwealth Edison...

, PG&E Corp
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
The Pacific Gas and Electric Company , commonly known as PG&E, is the utility that provides natural gas and electricity to most of the northern two-thirds of California, from Bakersfield almost to the Oregon border...

, PNM Resources
PNM Resources
PNM Resources is an energy holding company based in the U.S. state of New Mexico. The acronym PNM by itself usually refers to the PNM Resources subsidiary Public Service Company of New Mexico...

, and Apple Inc. Nike, Inc has decided to resign from their board of directors position but to continue their membership. Nike stated that they believe they can better influence the policy by being part of the conversation. In response to an online campaign of Prius owners organized by Moveon.org, Toyota has stated that it is not leaving the Chamber.

Peter Darbee, CEO of former chamber member PG&E (a utility company in California), said, “I'm struck by the irony that, as we try to restore public trust in business on the one hand, on the other the Chamber's behavior on the climate issue only reinforces stereotypes that erode that very same confidence." Hilary Rosen
Hilary Rosen
Hilary Beth Rosen is a partner in the political communications firm, SKDKnickerbocker with offices in DC and New York. Prior to joining SKDK, she was the managing partner of the DC office of the Brunswick Group, a London based PR and communications strategy firm. She joined Brunswick in...

, former CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America
Recording Industry Association of America
The Recording Industry Association of America is a trade organization that represents the recording industry distributors in the United States...

 added, "Their aggressive ways are out of step with a new generation of business leadership who are looking for more cooperative relationship with Washington.”

It has been reported that the Chamber has falsely inflated the number of members, claiming that it has 3 million members versus actual membership of 300,000. The Chamber says this is a "misunderstanding of the U.S. Chamber's structure", as the membership of the US Chamber of Commerce is 300,000, but the membership of all of its regional affiliates combined is 3 million.

In November 2009, the Chamber was reported to be seeking to spend $50,000 to hire a "respected economist" to produce a study that could be used to portray health-care legislation as a job killer and threat to the nation's economy.

In December 2009, activist group Velvet Revolution, under the name StopTheChamber, posted a $200,000 reward for "information leading to the arrest and conviction of Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donahue".

In 2010 the U.S. Chamber created a page on their web site to respond to controversies that arise.

Affiliate organizations

  • National Chamber Foundation
  • Institute for 21st Century Energy
  • Americans for Transportation Mobility
  • Business Civic Leadership Center
    Business Civic Leadership Center
    The Business Civic Leadership Center is a 5013 affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Originally founded as the Center for Corporate Citizenship in 1999, BCLC is focused on promoting corporate citizenship and developing partnerships among the private sector, government, and non-profit...

  • Institute for Legal Reform
  • Center for International Private Enterprise
    Center for International Private Enterprise
    The Center for International Private Enterprise is one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy and a non-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.- About :...

  • Institute for a Competitive Workforce
  • Essential Worker Immigration Coalition
  • National Chamber Litigation Center
  • Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness
  • TradeRoots
    TradeRoots is a division of the United States Chamber of Commerce . TradeRoots is a grassroots national trade education program. Its focus is on small businesses and trade.- History :...

See also

  • Lobbying in the United States
    Lobbying in the United States
    Lobbying in the United States targets the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and state legislatures. Lobbyists may also represent their clients' or organizations' interests in dealings with federal, state, or local executive branch agencies or the courts. Lobby...

  • Advocacy group
    Advocacy group
    Advocacy groups use various forms of advocacy to influence public opinion and/or policy; they have played and continue to play an important part in the development of political and social systems...

  • U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce
    U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce
    The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce was founded in 2001 to increase economic growth opportunities for women. As the only national organization of its kind, the U.S...

External links

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