(ESPAÑOL) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been a sharp critic of Donald Trump’s economic policies, plans to “turn up the heat” to overhaul the country’s immigration laws if he is elected president, a top official said Friday.
Rob Engstrom, senior vice president and national political director for the business lobby, said in an interview for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that the Chamber remains optimistic that bipartisan agreement can be forged on key immigration policy issues, despite Trump’s inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric.
“I would argue on a piecemeal basis there is opportunity in the next Congress, in the next two years, to be able to get substantive things done on immigration reform,” said Engstrom in an interview set to air Sunday. “In my private conversations with members of both political parties, on the Senate side and also on the House side, there is agreement on some tenets.”
Both Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are currently opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation Pacific Rim trade pact negotiated by the Obama administration. Clinton generally favors free trade and originally backed TPP, but now says she wants to see more protections in the deal for American workers. Trump has gone further, making protectionist language a centerpiece of his bid and arguing that international trade deals hurt American workers.
Thomas J. Donohue, the Chamber’s chief executive, has said the real estate mogul has “very little idea about what trade really is.” And the Chamber has warned that Trump’s policies would lead to a weaker economy.
Nevertheless, Engstrom said he is optimistic that the next president will ultimately support trade agreements.
But in the meantime, anti-trade rhetoric has spilled over into congressional races. And some of the Chamber’s staunchest allies have come out against TPP, including Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania — two incumbents getting major financial backing from the group.
So far, the business lobby has spent $25 million on 2016 races, largely on efforts supporting GOP Senate candidates. In the final stretch of the campaign, the Chamber plans to continue those campaigns and make new investments in House races.