McCarthy privately floats to replace House leadership

Photos: Roy Rochlin, Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy told U.S. Chamber of Commerce board members and heads of state that the organization must undertake a complete leadership change and replace the current president and CEO Suzanne Clark, Axios learned.

Why is this important: McCarthy’s direct conversations make it clear that he will not work with Clark and his leadership team if the Republicans take control and he becomes Speaker of the House.

  • But it charts a potential path for the business group to reestablish a relationship with the GOP conference.

What they say : Mark Ordan, chairman of the board, told Axios that Clark continues to have the “full support” of the executive committee.

  • “The United States Chamber of Commerce team plays a vital role in the day-to-day defense of American businesses,” he said. “We serve our members, not a political party.”
  • “Staying true to this mission requires a smart, savvy and vigorous leader like our CEO Suzanne Clark,” he said. “It is for this reason that our governing body, the Executive Committee of the Board, is unequivocally enthusiastic about Suzanne’s performance and the importance of her continued tenure as CEO of the United States House. United. She has our full support.”

What we mean: Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has privately expressed interest in the job.

The big picture: McCarthy’s conversations with House board members, essentially undermining Clark, mark a further escalation in the open conflict between House GOP leaders and the House.

  • The dispute stems from an August 2020 decision by the chamber, once seen as a functional campaign appendage of the Republican Party, to approve the reelection of 23 Democratic freshmen. Fifteen of those lawmakers won, putting the presidency beyond McCarthy’s reach at the time.
  • He seems to have definitely soured the relationship. Other Republicans have criticized what they see as the group’s progressive turn pro-business.
  • “You see the United States House endorsing a lot of these Democrats who voted for this whole anti-corporate policy,” said Steve Scalise, the House Minority Whip. said on a radio show in Arizona last monthreferencing some of President Biden’s signature laws.
  • “I’m a pro-business guy. I thought you represented all small businesses across America,” Scalise said. “Unfortunately they kind of got away from that. We’re trying to get them back to their roots.”

“Republicans across the country having run on issues, such as crime and inflation, that matter to the business community,” a House spokesperson said. “A Republican president and majority will be an important check and balance to the excesses we have seen from the left. We look forward to working with leaders and the upcoming Congress.”

Go further: Conservative Republicans have worked to undermine the chamber, with the House Republican Review Committee bolstering lobbying of a potential competing company group, the American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce, to a formal meeting in June.

  • At the meeting, RSC Chairman Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who is close to McCarthy, said he was “increasingly frustrated with the American Chamber of Commerce for backing woke policies and enriched China,” Axios reported.

Between the lines: The United States Chamber of Commerce maintained a better relationship with Senate Republicans. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaking to the group in September, expressed private optimism that the GOP can regain control of the Senate.

  • In September, the chamber endorsed Republican Mehmet Oz in his race for the Pennsylvania Senate after earlier lead 3 million at the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund super PAC for the race in Pennsylvania.
  • Of the approximately 60 competitive races in the House, the chamber has endorsed candidates they consider pro-business, including 23 Republicans and four Democrats, according to a spokesperson for the chamber.

The plot: Clark responds to a 12-member executive committee, which voted for her succeed for a long time CEO Tom Donohue in February 2021.

The bottom line: Republicans in Congress are ready to go to war with business, once the cornerstone of their coalition, for what many in their ranks see as an unforgivable change: to focus less on profit and more on politics.

Comments are closed.