U.S. Chamber lobby seeks major push on immigration

WASHINGTON (AP) — The president of the US Chamber of
Commerce says the nation’s biggest business lobby intends to "pull out
all the stops" to pass an overhaul of immigration laws. That would place
the chamber on the side of President Barack Obama on one of the White
House’s top legislative priorities of the year.
"We’re determined
to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted,"
Chamber President Tom Donohue said Wednesday, during his annual "State
of American Business" address.
Donohue cast his organization as
both an ally and an adversary of the administration on Wednesday. He
indicated support for Obama’s stance on immigration and also the
president’s push for global trade agreements.
He distanced himself
from some Republicans by saying he doesn’t envision a repeal of Obama’s
health care law. But he said the chamber would seek to eliminate health
care taxes and delay or do away with a mandate on businesses to provide
health care to employees.
He also said the chamber will continue
its efforts change or limit rules imposed by a three-year-old financial
regulations bill, passed as a response to the 2008 financial crisis.
"And when these efforts fall short and regulators insist on overstepping
their bounds, we will head to the courts and sue them," Donohue said.
On
politics, Donohue said the chamber would expand its early foray into
primary elections this year, saying it would support pro-business
candidates who are willing to work within the legislative system.
He
said the chamber had no interest in backing uncompromising candidates
who voice a desire, in his words, to "burn down the town."
Donohue
predicted the economy would continue to grow modestly, expanding by as
much as 3 percent this year. But he said such growth could improve with
less government intervention in business, particularly in the energy
industry.
Responding to Obama’s emphasis recently on economic
disparities in the country, Donohue said policy makers should focus on
equal opportunities for all Americans rather than equal outcomes. He
said the nation needs a revolution in education and training, arguing
that if millions cannot properly read, write or count "that can be a
prescription for permanent inequality."
He indicated he agreed
with the Obama administration that pre-school education can help
establish a solid foundation for students, but distanced himself from
Obama’s call for federally supported universal pre-school.
"If
we’re talking about pre-school education that fits a specific problem in
specific groups of people, I’m interested," he said.
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