July 25, 2015

Ooooh, pop the popcorn. It looks like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has had enough of the ultra-conservative tea partiers standing in the way of their corporate agendas.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is gearing up to challenge some House Republicans in primary elections, frustrated after much of its agenda has been stymied by a small pocket of conservative GOP lawmakers.

The influential and well-heeled business group is already eyeing several races, but the plans are still in their infancy and the targets have not yet been decided upon, according to more than a half dozen Republican sources on K Street and Capitol Hill.

...

The group’s apparent new willingness to engage in hand-to-hand political combat to take out sitting Republicans would represent a major shift for the business community, which has largely shied away from targeting sitting lawmakers.

House GOP leadership sources say they’re unaware of and don’t support any attempt to target sitting GOP lawmakers. But the Chamber’s internal dialogue comes as House Republican leaders have struggled to maintain discipline in their ranks. Recent attempts to crack down on dissenting lawmakers have backfired.

The early discussions by top-level Chamber operatives like Rob Engstrom and Scott Reed reflect a broad consensus among companies with business before Congress that the political dynamic needs to change on Capitol Hill.

The theory is simple: The Chamber spent some $70 million in 2014, mostly to help Senate Republicans build their majority. But many of their legislative priorities — immigration reform, the renewal of the Export-Import Bank and a long-term highway bill — have been held up by a clutch of conservative lawmakers in the House.

Good luck with that, US Chamber. You're going to go head-to-head with the Kochs and their organization? That should be fun to watch.

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