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Chamber of Commerce Makes Bipartisanship Part of Its Scorecard

A small push on Thursday to narrow the Capitol's partisan breech could have some lasting significance given its unlikely source: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, traditionally the most influential lobbying force for the Republican establishment.

The chamber said it will start considering bipartisanship and collaborative legislating, not just a pro-business voting record, when deciding its endorsements for Congress. The group will make each of those characteristics count for 10 percent on its annual scorecards, which have had enormous influence in steering campaign contributions toward incumbents with the top numbers.

"This new approach reflects our belief that many of Washington's troubles — including dysfunction, division, and incivility — could be helped by rebuilding the political center and restoring responsible governing," the chamber's president, Thomas Donahue, said in announcing the first change to the scorecard system in four decades. "Lawmakers should be rewarded for reaching across the aisle, not punished."

To this point, the chamber has spent overwhelmingly on Republican candidates and endorsed them almost exclusively. It has only endorsed two Democrats this decade, and both lost: Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas in 2010, when she was defeated for a third term, and veteran Connecticut politician Mary Glassman in 2018, when she lost an open-seat primary to Jahana Hayes, now a freshman House member.

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