The United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) is an American lobbying group representing the interests of many businesses and trade associations. It is not an agency of the United States government.
The Chamber is staffed with policy specialists, lobbyists and lawyers. Politically, the Chamber is generally considered to be a conservative organization. It usually supports Republican political candidates, though it has occasionally supported conservative Democrats. The Chamber is one of the largest lobbying groups in the U.S., spending more money than any other lobbying organization on a yearly basis
The Chamber generally tries to maintain amicable relationships with both the Republican and Democratic parties. For instance, the Chamber supported both Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts and Bill Clinton’s NAFTA efforts. In 1993, the Chamber lost several members over its support for Clinton’s healthcare reform efforts. The Chamber had chosen to support healthcare reform at that time due to the spiraling healthcare costs experienced by its members. However, House Republicans retaliated by urging boycotts of the organization. The Chamber operated its own cable television station, Biz-Net until 1997 in order to promote its policies. The Chamber shifted somewhat more to the right when Tom Donohue became head of the organization in 1997. By the time health care reform became a major issue again in 2010-2012, the organization opposed such efforts.
More than 90 years later, the Chamber claims a direct membership of 300,000 businesses, and 3 million through its various affiliates such as state and local chambers. Some of the Chamber’s members and donors are Goldman Sachs, Chevron, Texaco, and Aegon.
The US Chamber is different from local and state chambers of commerce located in many cities, towns and states nationwide. The US Chamber focuses on national issues on the federal government level. Local and state chambers of commerce are independently started and operated organizations. Local chambers focus on local issues, and state chambers on state issues.
The Washington, D.C., headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce occupies land that was formerly the home of Daniel Webster.
In late 2011 it was revealed that the Chamber’s computer system was breached from November 2009 to May 2010 by Chinese hackers. The purpose of the breach appeared to be gain information related to the Chamber’s lobbying regarding Asian trade policy.
Since a 1971 internal memo by Lewis Powell advocating a more active role in cases before United States Supreme Court, the Chamber has found increasing success in litigation. Under the Burger and Rehnquist Courts the Chamber was on the prevailing side 43% and 56% of the time, respectively, but under the Roberts Court, the Chamber’s success rate rose to 68% as of 21 June 2012