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For the Chamber, the dustup was another sobering reminder that their longtime ally, the Republican Party, is growing more populist by the year — and many of its members now view the business groups with suspicion. For years there was cooperation between the party and the Chamber, blocking the Democratic policy agenda and electing Republicans during the Obama years. (The US Chamber is a lobbying organization funded by its members, from large corporations like 3M and Microsoft to small businesses. It is distinct from state and local chambers, some of which are members of the national Chamber).
But the fruitful partnership has been upended by shifts in both the political platform of the GOP and the more progressive social priorities for corporate America. As some Republicans embrace populism and economic paternalism typified by former President Donald Trump, groups like the Chamber are finding their member companies are less eager to follow the GOP’s trajectory.
For that, many Republicans privately argue that the one-time powerful lobby has lost its focus and can no longer be trusted as a pillar of the GOP coalition. The Chamber, meanwhile, insists its purpose — advocacy for its members and for free enterprise — hasn’t changed, even if the Republican Party has.