The Chamber’s Civil War in Washington

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


At the same time that the US Chamber of Commerce is leading the fight against health care reform and a carbon cap, one of its largest grassroots affiliates is strongly disagreeing with its stance in meetings with powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Today, a delegation from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers to voice strong support for cap and trade legislation and the core principles of the Senate’s health care bill. The delegation included United Airlines, Pacific Gas & Electric, and several small businesses. “The San Francisco business community has a different perspective on some key issues that are currently being considered in Congress,” said San Francisco Chamber vice president Rob Black, explaining why he’d chosen to circumvent the US Chamber’s lobbyists. “We wanted to be able to communicate with [Pelosi] directly the San Francisco businesses community’s perspectives on both those issues.”

Along with the San Francisco Chamber–one of the ten largest Chamber affiliates—ever more businesses and trade groups are distancing themselves from the Chamber’s partisan tactics. Earlier this month, a Microsoft representative publicly repudiated the Chamber’s position on climate change, writing that the Chamber “has never spoken for nor done work on behalf of Microsoft regarding climate change legislation.” And business groups that together count more members than the US Chamber does–groups that include the US Womens Chamber of Commerce, the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce–have signed a pledge in support of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which the US Chamber opposes.

Black is confident that the San Francisco Chamber’s positions have wide appeal across Main Street America. Climate change and oil dependence affect everyone from farmers to city merchants, “and rising health care costs are killing our small businesses,” he pointed out. “You can look at Main Street and see lots of empty store fronts. A big part of that is health care costs. We have to address that.” 

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.