Chamber of Commerce says will focus on bipartisanship when endorsing candidates

Chamber of Commerce says will focus on bipartisanship when endorsing candidates
© Greg Nash

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas Donohue announced on Thursday a new rating system that will focus on bipartisanship when the influential business advocacy group endorses members of Congress.

The rating system will focus on “rebuilding the political center” and “restoring responsible governing” at a time of sharp political divisions and on those who propose "good legislation" rather than cast particular votes, Donohue said.

“We will give lawmakers credit for showing leadership on good legislation — even if it doesn’t pass or even come up for a vote. And we’re going to take bipartisanship into account. Lawmakers should be rewarded for reaching across the aisle — not punished,” Donohue said at the annual “State of American Business” on Thursday.

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The CEO said the move away from supporting politicians solely because of the votes they cast is due to a divided government. Previous endorsements were based on votes members casted for or against business priorities.

“Given the rocky start of the year, it’s understandable there are questions about what can be accomplished under a sharply divided government. The divisions aren’t just between the parties—they’re within the parties,” he said.

“Governing by crisis is no way to do the nation’s business,” he added.

The CEO said the scorecard to measure lawmakers' contributions to the economy has not been changed in 40 years and called the new initiative a “revamping” of the old measurement.

“This new approach reflects our belief that many of Washington’s troubles — including dysfunction, division and incivility — could be helped by rebuilding the political center and restoring responsible governing,” he said.

The Republican-leaning chamber, which was founded in 1912, last year endorsed a Democratic candidate in a primary for the first time since 2010, when it backed former Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

The endorsement was also won by Connecticut's 5th District candidate Mary Glassman, though she went on to lose to Jahana HayesJahana HayesSupporters leave notes on plaque outside Ocasio-Cortez's office Chamber of Commerce says will focus on bipartisanship when endorsing candidates 116th Congress breaks records for women, minority lawmakers MORE.

Hayes ended up winning her House election in November.