Business groups that helped elect House Republicans now want them to reopen the government.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent $35.7 million during the 2012 campaign, primarily on behalf of Republicans, sent its lobbyists to Capitol Hill to push for an end to the shutdown, brought about after House Republicans refused to pass legislation funding the government unless the bill also delayed the new health-care law that expands coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.
“We’re continuing to talk to scores of members of Congress and their staff,” said Blair Latoff Holmes, a spokeswoman for the largest business lobby. “Our top lobbyists have been on the Hill and making calls.”
The business groups aren’t pinning the blame on one side or the other, asking both Democrats and Republicans to work together to figure out a way to reopen the government.
“We are urging members to work with each other and President Obama to come to a solution on all the issues that are facing us,” said Dan Stohr, spokesman for the Arlington, Virginia-based Aerospace Industries Association, the trade group for such companies as Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co., and General Electric Co. “You just can’t run a business this way. The uncertainty is killing us.”
Defense industry employees gave 60 percent of their donations to Republicans for the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.
Patricia Rojas-Ungar, vice president of government affairs at the U.S. Travel Association, spent the day meeting with lawmakers and their staffs.
“We are trying to share the story about what’s happening with members of Congress,” she said.
Some of those stories include concerns that foreign visitors won’t come to the U.S. out of fear that the shutdown will cause long lines at airports or delayed flights.
“To date, none of that is going to be impacted,” she said., “There’s the perception that maybe it will because so many people are being furloughed. Perception is sometimes reality.”
Tourism industry employees contributed 58 percent of their donations to Republicans in the last election, according to the center.